Belgian jihadist jailed for murder in Syria
BRUSSELS – Agence France-PresseA Belgian court on Feb. 13 sentenced a jihadist to 28 years in jail for committing murder in Syria, the Belga news agency said, adding that it was the country’s first such conviction.
The 24-year-old man, named Hakim Elouassaki, was a member of Sharia4Belgium, a radical Islamist group based in the northern city of Antwerp.
The group was dissolved in 2012, after it sent numerous fighters to Syria and Iraq, and called for the establishment of an Islamic state in Belgium.
Elouassaki travelled in October 2012 to Syria, where he joined a jihadist group, Belga said.
On Jan. 14, 2013, he confided in his girlfriend in Belgium and admitted he shot a Shiite Muslim hostage in the head after his family failed to pay the ransom, the agency added.
He did not know, however, that the phone line was being monitored.
He returned to Belgium in April that year after he was critically injured, and was arrested.
On Feb. 13, the Antwerp criminal court sentenced him to 28 years in prison.
The court meanwhile acquitted five other former members of Sharia4Belgium who had been under investigation for allegedly taking part in a video depicting a beheading.
They, men - who are believed to still be in Syria and were tried in absentia - were acquitted on lack of evidence.