A video featuring images of ISIS fighters released by the New York Times allegedly shows the Iraqi national arrested in Athens, Greece on Monday on suspicion of being a member of the terrorist group.
The video, released in 2014, details the evolution of ISIS and features the suspect, who is flanked by two armed jihadists, raising his gun in a celebratory fashion.
While it was not the piece of evidence that led Greek police to arrest the man, aged 34, it will allegedly be included in evidence used against him at his trial.
Suspected ISIS member applied for asylum in Greece
Greek authorities reportedly knew of his presence in the country, but information from a foreign intelligence service telling Greek authorities that the Iraqi had been an ISIS operative accelerated developments leading to his arrest.
The detainee was held and interrogated by the anti-terrorist service on Monday while his house was searched by police. They found phones, tablets, and sim cards which will all be analyzed for any evidence relevant to the case.
The man was officially charged with being a member of the terrorist group by the Greek prosecutor on Tuesday.
He has been living in Greece since 2017 with his wife and four children. The man first arrived on the island of Lesvos, which is the first stop in Europe for many refugees and migrants from the Middle East and Asia.
During his stay in the country, he had twice applied for political asylum, but on both occasions his application had been rejected.
He had recently appealed to the administrative courts against the court decisions, citing humanitarian reasons.
Several ISIS members arrested in Greece
Greece has arrested a number of ISIS members in recent years, as extremists have taken advantage of the migrant influx to Greece.
In November 2020, a 27-year-old Syrian man was jailed after he was charged with two crimes linked to ISIS terror attacks.
The suspect had originally confessed to police that he was indeed an ISIS member and pointed himself out in a video recording of ISIS fighters murdering civilians in 2014.
In testimony before the magistrate, however, he recanted and denied all the charges, claiming that the confession had been extracted by the use of torture.
The charges against the 27-year-old, who was residing at the Eleonas refugee and migrant housing facility in Attica, are for participation in a terror organization and direct involvement in murder as an act of terror.
In 2018, a 33-year-old Syrian national had been convicted on murder and explosives charges related to his participation with ISIS.
Earlier in the same year, an Afghan national caught carrying dozens of detonators was detained in Athens by Greek police and charged with the illegal possession of explosives.
In May 2017, a court in Komotini, northern Greece also convicted two members of the Islamic State terror group and sentenced them to 15 years’ imprisonment for unlawful arms possession.
The two men — a 30-year-old Swedish national and a 21-year-old Yemeni — were carrying hunting knives and were trying to cross into Turkey.