Sweden: France arrests Swedish Somalia fighter

Swedish Muslim Youssef Qomer thought that his volunteering to fight alongside the Islamic Courts against Ethiopia in Somalia had been put at the back of his mind as he continued his life peacefully when he returned home following a cliff-hunter odyssey.

But one year on, the Somalia stint has landed him in one of French custodies with terror charges hanging over him.

"I don't know why my husband has been arrested in France," Qomer's wife Saida told IslamOnline.net on Saturday, February 9.

Qomer, 23, travelled to France last month to visit his brother. His bereaved wife has not heard of him since February 1.

"He has never showed up again," added Saida, who could not help crying.

"His brother told me that Qomer was arrested by French anti-terror police as he prepared to take the plane back home," she said, apologizing for being unable to fight back tears.

Well-placed sources told IOL that Qomer faces charges of joining a "terrorist group" of foreigners that fought alongside Somalia's Islamic Courts Union against Ethiopian forces in 2006.

Qomer had fought alongside the Islamic Courts in its battles to seize control of law-less Somalia.

When Ethiopian and interim government troops unleashed a massive military operation against the by then ruling Courts, he was told, like fellow former foreign fighters, to leave the country.

He went astray into the bushes and woods.

Qomer took refuge with a Somali tribesman, who tenderly catered for him after three exhausting months in the open.

The man helped him escape war-torn Somalia on a dingy boat heading for Yemen. A friend in the Swedish embassy in Saudi Arabia issued him a passport and then he flew home through Jordan.

In Sweden, he was briefly interrogated by authorities but never charged.

Under French laws, police have the right to arrest any person on suspicions of joining a "terrorist group."

Rendition Feared

Foreign volunteers, who were released by the CIA after interrogation at one of its reportedly secret prisons in Ethiopia, said the American intelligence services consider Qomer a "big fish."

"They told me that CIA agents who interrogated them in Ethiopia believed that I know a lot," Qomer told IOL in an earlier interview.

He said he feared for his future amid reports of CIA rendition flights of terror suspects.

Last August, a Tunisian national called Ayoub el-Safakisi was deported to France from Ethiopia on charges of joining a "terrorist group" and fighting alongside the Somali Islamic Courts.

His compatriot Adnan Nageh, who also joined forces with the Courts, had told IOL about his nightmarish experience at one of CIA detention centers in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa following a no-less-harsh rendition flight from Kenya.

The Independent had revealed the existence of CIA secret prisons in Ethiopia to interrogate terror suspects.

It said dozens of Somali refugees, including children and women, were flown on CIA rendition flights from Kenya for interrogation in Addis Ababa.

Amnesty International has accused European countries of being partners in crime in the US rendition of terror suspects to countries where they were tortured.

The report cited seven European countries that allowed airports and airspace on their territory to be used, participated in the arrest or abduction of people and handed them over to US authorities. France did not feature on the list.

Source: Islam Online (English)

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