Mossad Helped Syrian General 'Escape and Get Asylum' in Austria

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hoto released by Human Rights Watch shows a torture device abandoned on the floor of a State Security building, in Raqqa, Syria, 2014.
hoto released by Human Rights Watch shows a torture device abandoned on the floor of a State Security building, in Raqqa, Syria, 2014. Credit: AP

A Syrian general accused of war crimes was assisted by the Mossad in finding "a new life in Europe," reported The Telegraph in an investigation citing a senior judicial source in Europe.

Brigadier General Khaled Halabi was chief of intelligence in Raqqa during the early war period in Syria, overseeing a facility in which prisoners were allegedly murdered, tortured and sexually assaulted.

The DGSE, France's external intelligence agency, helped Halabi escape from Syria in 2014, believing he could be a useful asset in an event that Syrian President Bashar Assad is defeated. However, Halabi was denied asylum due to a specific provision of the Geneva Convention which denies refugee status in cases involving allegations of war crimes.

After France rejected his asylum application, Halabi "appears to have made contact with Mossad who got in contact with Austria's [internal intellegence agency] BVT,” the judicial source said. 

Israeli and Austrian agents took Halabi to Austria, according to the report, after the French War Crimes Unit launched an investigation against him.

Halabi's application for resettlement in Austria was granted in 2015. In addition to an apartment in Vienna and extensive benefits from the government, he also received a €5,000 ($6,000) monthly stipend from Mossad.

“Mossad must also have thought he could be interesting and perhaps even play a political role in the future,” the source suggested.

Meanwhile, the Commission for International Justice and Accountability (CIJA), an organization that gathers evidence of war crimes had collected documents which they say provide evidence of Halabi's responsibility for crimes taken by those under his command.

“We have quite a few insider witnesses and testimony from about 40 victims who were tortured,” said CIJA director Nerma Jelacic, adding that there is evidence of murder, torture, sexual violence and crimes against minors.

France issued a Europol request to locate Halabi in 2017, and 2018, Austrian police raided Halabi’s apartment but did not find him. Since then his whereabouts have not been publicly known.

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