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Belgian Fighter Sentenced to Jail for Murder in Syria | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Police officers man a cordon in the Molenbeek district of Brussels on November 16, 2015. On Tuesday, police carried out another counter-terrorism raid in the troubled neighborhood.JOHN THYS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Brussels – Media reports circulating in Belgium are saying that Hicham Chaib, one of the most wanted terrorists, might have been killed in bombings near Tal Afar, Iraq.

“Latest News” Belgium newspaper published the news and said that Iraqi army carried out several air strikes near Tal Afar where they targeted a place housing 13 ISIS commanders, including Chaib who was the personal bodyguard of the leader of Shariah4Belgium, Fouad Belkacem.

Belkacem, currently in prison, was convicted of terrorist acts and recruiting members to fight in Syria and Iraq. He denied these allegations during the court sessions, after which the Belgium authorities decided to ban the activities of Shariah4Belgium.

In 2013, Chaib travelled to Syria and Iraq where he joined ISIS and quickly managed to work up in ranks.

According to media reports, he was head of religious police in Syria’s Raqqa..

In Antwerp, Hakim Elouassaki was sentenced on Monday to 28 years in jail for killing a hostage while fighting with terrorist groups in Syria, the first murder conviction of a returned fighter in Belgium.

Elouassaki, 24, returned to Belgium in 2013 after being wounded in the conflict, a few months after police had intercepted a phone call in which he bragged to his girlfriend about shooting a hostage in the head.

His lawyer is claiming that his testimonies should be inadmissible due to his brain damage from injury.

Elouassaki, from Vilvoorde near Brussels, added that the hostage’s family wasn’t able to pay the ransom. He also reported how he once released an Armenian hostage after his family came up with 30,000 instead of the supposed 70,000 euros ransom money.

“A bullet through the head, bang, hahaha,” Elouassaki told his girlfriend by phone, according to court documents.

The judge at the Antwerp court where Elouassaki stood trial called his actions “inhuman and completely unacceptable”.

Sources stated that authorities had been investigating Elouassaki before his departure to Syria because he was part of Sharia4Belgium. The group has been suspended since then.

The court is supposed to issue verdicts in absentia for five other members who are currently in Syria, three of whom are thought to be dead.

Some 450 people have left Belgium to fight in Syria and Iraq, the highest country contribution in Europe on a per capita basis. Returning Syria fighters have also been involved in militant attacks in Belgium, France and elsewhere in Europe.

Meanwhile, 16 returning Syria fighters still receive unemployment benefits because they have returned and registered themselves in the municipalities of their residence. The office of unemployment benefits said that these members showed willingness to rejoin the work market, and thus they had the required conditions to receive financial benefits.

Since August 2013, local authorities of several Belgium districts had joined Antwerp’s decision to stop all welfare and unemployment benefits for members who have been proven to participate in war in Syria. Belgium government announced that this decision could include all areas and cities in the country.