Suspected Member of a Syrian Regime-Associated Militia Arrested for Crimes against
Humanity and War Crimes
Yesterday (2 August 2023), the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office had agents of the Federal
Criminal Police Office arrest
the Syrian national Ahmad H.
in Bremen in execution of an arrest warrant of 26 July 2023 issued by the Investigating Judge
at the Federal Court of Justice.
Ahmad H. is strongly suspected of having committed crimes against humanity and war crimes
through torture and enslavement (section 7 para. 1 nos. 3 and 5, section 8 para. 1 no. 3 of the
German Code of Crimes against International Law [VStGB], section 25 paras. 1 and 2 of the
Germaan Criminal Code [StGB]).
In essence, the arrest warrant sets out the following facts:
At least from the end of April 2011 onwards, the Syrian regime systematically resorted to brutal
force against critics. The Syrian secret intelligence services played a key role in those
measures. The objective was to suppress the protest movement from early on and to intimidate
the population. Accordingly, actual and presumed political opponents were arrested without
legal basis accross the country, detained, tortured and, in many cases, killed. Early 2012, the
tensions in Syria escalated into a civil war between, in particular, the Syrian armed forces and
armed opposition groups.
- 2 –
From at least 2012 to 2015, Ahmad H. acted as local leader of a „Shabiha militia“ in Tadamon,
a quarter in the Syrian capital Damascus. The militia was incorporated into the „National
Defence Forces“. Together with Branch 227 of the Syrian military intelligence service, it was
mandated by the Syrian regime to oppress any opposition endeavors in Tadamon by force.
For this purpose, the militia ran checkpoints. There and elsewhere in the area, the group
arbitrarily arrested individuals on a regular basis in order to extort money from them or their
relatives, to subject them to forced labour or to torture them. On a large scale, the militia also
plundered houses and apartments belonging to presumed regime opponents and sold the
stolen goods to generate income. On 16 April and 16 October 2013, members of Branch 227
killed at least 47 civilians in Tadamon by mass execution.
On various occasions, the suspect was personally involved in the mistreatment of civilians in
Tadamon. In one incident in 2013, he hit a man who had been arrested by the militia in the
face and instructed other group members to beat the captive brutally with plastic pipes for
hours. In fall 2014, Ahmad H., other militiamen and members of the Syrian military intelligence
service repeatedly beat and kicked a civilian at a checkpoint. The suspect pulled the victim by
his hair and banged his head onto the pavement. Ahmad H. then tied the man before he was
taken away by the militia. In two cases between December 2012 and early 2015, the suspect
arrested 25 to 30 persons each at a checkpoint and forced them to transport sandbags to the
nearby front. There, the capitves worked under repeated fire and without food and water. In
addition, they were beaten by the suspect and other militia members.
The suspect was brought before the Investigating Judge at the Federal Court of Justice today
(3 August 2023) who read out the arrest warrant to him and decided for pre-trial detention to
be put into effect.