Ihab Hallak, 50, from Spånga, Stockholm, has officially acknowledged that he collected approximately 870,000 kronor from the mosque of Stockholm and transferred the money to the al-Qaeda-connected terrorist organization Al-Nusrafront located in Syria.
By – Brünnhilde
After almost one and a half years in custody, the Swedish aid worker was released on Tuesday from a prison on the Al-Nusra Front – in exchange for kidnapped Lebanese soldiers.
Ihab Hallak, 50, and his son-in-law were arrested in June 2014 by the Lebanese intelligence service.
Both were suspected of involvement in a series of terrorist offenses, including a number of car bombs smuggled from Syria to Lebanon during 2013-2014.
During a raid at the home of the 50-year-old in Khaldeh south of Beirut, the Lebanese itelligence service found two Kalashnikovs, a gun of the Beretta brand along with a variety of ammunition and hand grenades.
Four years ago, Ihab Hallak, from Spanga, decided to take his children back and relocate back to Lebanon, which he had moved from in 1984.
From there he quickly moved onto al-Qalamoun in Syria, where one of his daughters married a man who held an official high-ranking position within the terrorist group al-Nusra.
The Al-Nusra Front is the al-Qaeda branch in Syria and is led by terrorist Osama al-Absi al-Wahdi, more famous and well-known by his other name Abu Mohammad al-Jolani.
Both Ihab Hallak and his son-in-law have been prosecuted as suspects for terrorist offenses in Lebanon. The trial has been ongoing throughout the last year.
“It’s a confusing riddle for me as to why a person who has lived so many years in a peaceful country like Sweden chooses to move to Syria and join terrorist groups,” says Khalil Ibrahim, the military judge, reports Expressen.
In the preliminary hearings, the 50-year-old admitted that he belonged to the Al-Nusra Front Terrorist Group, and that he participated in the al-Qalamoun fighting and was in violation of the laws during 2014.
During later court hearings, he partially recovered his duties, but acknowledged his connection with Al-Nusra and his support of the terrorist organization in the form of aid and money.
Hallak, now named in several Lebanese media, stated that he has occasionally worked for the Islamic Relief Help Center in Sweden. He admitted in court that he has visited the Al-Nusrafront quarter in al-Qalamoun where he has met the terrorist leader Abou Malek al-Talli.
Al-Talli is the man in charge of the invasion of the Christian city of Maalula in Syria, the kidnapping of nineteen nuns, the theft of historically valuable objects from Maalula’s churches and a series of other war crimes.
The 50-year-old Swedes acknowledge that he met a number of well-known violent terrorists, including terrorist Abou Malek al-Talli in Yabrud and Abou Khaled, who is solely responsible for suicide bombers.
“Certainly, I used to live at Al-Nusa’s headquarters in Yabrud, Al Qalamoun, to coordinate the Al-Nusrafront Frontier Assistance Mission. I never declared war for Al-Nusra’s leader Abou Malek al-Talli. I did not fight on their side. In order to be able to hand out al Qalamoun assistance, you must go through al-Talli,”
The 50-year-old, who still has large parts of his family living in Sweden, confirms in court that he had collected $ 100,000 – about 870,000 Swedish kronor – in Stockholm.
“How did you get the money together?” asked the military judge Kahlil Ibrahim during the negotiations.
“In the great mosque in Stockholm,”
Hallak also confirms that he continued on to transfer the money to the Al-Nusra Front in Syria, but claims that everything went to food, medicine and hospital equipment.
He was questioned during his court hearings as to why he did not go through the Red Cross or other international aid organizations, and why instead he went through the terrorist Abou Malek al-Talli in Syria.
Hallak explained that he wanted to be in al-Qalamoun personally to hand over the money.
Ihab Hallak’s grandson is suspected, among other things, of filming a series of threats and public executions orchesttrated by Al-Nusra. He is also suspected of filming the rocket attack by the Al-Nisra front against Lebanese communities and for driving suicide bombers to their intended locations.
In the initial hearing, the son-in-law acknowledged that he filmed all executions and all the attacks that Al-Nusra conducted in al-Qalamoun, details that he later partially withdrew.
“I was about to fix my paper to move to Sweden. I wanted to leave the Al-Nusra front and start a new life in Sweden,” claims the son-in-law during his court proceedings.
Hallak’s lawyer Khaled Itani tells that his client is ill and needs medical attention. He has assessed the possibilities for the 50-year-old to be released as very small.
“I’m afraid he will be sentenced to terrorism. I expect him to be sentenced to at least three years in prison,” reports lawyer Khaled Itani earlier in court talks.
Mohammed Temsamani. the spokesman for Stockholm’s Mosque, tells that the accused 50-year-old had no mission or position of importance in the congregation.
“As far as collections in our assembly are concerned, our policy is very clear – no private individuals can make their own collections inside the congregation’s doors. Only the Islamic Relief Assistance Organization has that right,” writes Mohammed Temsamani.
“For questions about the person’s involvement in Islamic Relief, please feel free to turn to them as we cannot answer,” he adds.
On the subject of Islamic Relief, President Mostafa Kharraki says:
“I know he’s currently imprisoned. He was not employed at Islamic Relief. I hope he will be released soon,” says Mostafa Kharraki.
His wish came true Tuesday when Hallak was released by the Lebanese authorities in a very noticeable prison exchange, where 13 arrested suspects of the Alus Front were released.
In exchange, the Al-Nusra Front released kidnapped Lebanese soldiers.
Prison exchange has made a major debate in Lebanon especially in regards as to whether it is right to negotiate with the Al-Nusra Front, of whom is behind a series of deadly suicide bombings in Lebanon.
Ihab Hallak’s lawyer Kahled Itani confirms that the 50-year-old is really released from the detention.
“He plans to stay in Lebanon and not return to Sweden,” says Itani.
However, according to a spokesperson for the military court, the charge is not suspended against Hallak. The next court hearing is scheduled for early July next year.
“If he does not come to trial, he may be sentenced in his absence,” says a court source.
Hallak himself has not reached a comment after the release.
“If he is coming back to Sweden, I do not know yet, but we hope so.”
Read more: From 22017/04/03