Bonn/Hamburg The Bonn jihadist Fared Saal, who is being detained in northern Syria, has now said in an interview with ARD television that he wants to return to Germany. Saal became known through a video in which he presented himself in front of a mound of corpses.
For almost a year, Bonn-born jihadist Fared Saal has been detained by Kurdish armed forces in northern Syria. He gave an interview there to reporters from NDR and SWR that was broadcast by ARD television on Sunday evening. In it, the 29-year-old son of Algerian immigrants says that he wants to return to Germany. “If it now has to be prison, then I prefer a prison where you have certain rights. Human rights, etc.” says the former Islamic State (IS) fighter.
Saal became internationally known through an IS propaganda video in which he crouched in front of a mound of corpses and ridiculed the victims. “We have slaughtered the animals,” he announced at the time. He now says in the interview that he was not forced to make the video. “It was just a system that was given to me and I did it. But I could also have said no.” He could “definitely” understand that he was being investigated in connection with war crimes.
Fared Saal left Germany for Syria in 2013 with his wife and one-year-old son. He is considered a high-ranking militiaman among jihadists. The Americans and the United Nations classified him as a “recognised international terrorist” in 2017. Saal frequently appeared in propaganda videos alongside Denis Cuspert, who according to current information was killed in Syria in January 2018.
Saal said that because of his language skills, he was to enlist new recruits from German and English speaking countries and smuggle them into IS territory. He was deployed to the Syrian-Turkish border and later worked as a guard in a combat battalion and in the administration.
As well as the 29-year-old from Bonn, the Chief Federal Prosecutor in Karlsruhe is currently investigating a large number of German IS supporters, including for suspected war crimes. It is still uncertain whether Saal will be extradited to Germany. On the one hand he is not in state custody, on the other there is no law enforcement treaty with Syria.
The Foreign Ministry told ARD that consular assistance was currently virtually impossible. However, in individual cases, particularly in humanitarian cases, possible options are being examined to enable German nationals to leave Syria.
(Original text: Sebastian Fink, Rüdiger Franz. Translation: kc)