Jihadist or Spy? The Samsam affair put Danish intelligence in an awkward position

Torn Islamic State logo File photo by Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images

Jihadist or undercover spy? Spanish justice chose the first option, but Ahmad Samsam continues to plead his innocence, claiming that his country’s intelligence agency, Denmark, let him go. The case is causing increasing embarrassment for Danish services and even the government, which is currently rejecting calls for a commission of inquiry amid significant media mobilization. The person concerned is formal: during his stay in Syria in 2013 and 2014, he worked for the secret services (PET) and then for the Danish military intelligence (FE), to whom he reported on foreign jihadist fighters.

Ahmad Samsam, a 34-year-old Dane of Syrian origin with a well-documented criminal record, never joined the Islamic State, according to several Danish media counter-investigations. In 2012, the young man, in fact, on his own initiative, left for Syria to fight the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Upon his return, Danish justice is interested in his stay, but the case is closed without further action. He was then sent to the war zone several times with money and equipment provided by PET and then by FE, according to media outlets DR and Berlingske, who rely on anonymous testimonies and evidence of bank transfers.

In 2017, under threat from criminals in Copenhagen in a case of settling scores, regardless of his trips to Syria, a young man left for Spain. But he is arrested by the Spanish police, who are surprised to find photos of him holding the Islamic State flag on Facebook. The following year, Ahmad Samsam was sentenced to eight years in prison for belonging to IS. “When he was arrested in Spain in 2017, he was 100% sure that the Danish authorities would help him,” explains his lawyer Erbil Kaya. But no Danish declaration interferes in his favor. “It’s very difficult to prove that you were an agent, it doesn’t mean that he had a payroll or a contract,” Me Kaya says.

Since 2020, Ahmad Samsam has been serving a sentence reduced to six years in Denmark. Last year, he filed a complaint against the security services to have them recognize his track record. The trial is scheduled for August. “It’s very rare to send an agent to prison for a long time,” said Magnus Ranstorp, director of research at the Defense University in Sweden. According to this terrorist files expert, the fact that the young man was arrested in Spain could complicate matters. “Intelligence would prefer to sweep this under the rug. These are things that cannot be exposed in court, ”explains the Swedish expert. “Even if the agent is no longer needed, he usually doesn’t need to attract attention,” he adds.

Our Dreyfus Affair

Whereas during the recent legislative campaign the entire political class was in favor of a commission of inquiry, last month the new government finally rejected the idea. “To protect our society and open democracy, it is important that everything related to the special services is not put on display,” the Justice Department said in a statement.

For the detainee’s lawyer, the government’s position is “incomprehensible.” Ahmad Samsam “gives the impression that the authorities do not want to help him, but are doing everything to block the truth,” he laments. “One day the truth will come out, and I think this case will be called the Dreyfus Affair. »

In prison, the detainee recently went on a week-long hunger strike to protest the “inhuman conditions of detention.”

At the end of December, the intelligence agencies issued a joint press release reminding them never to reveal the identities of their informants “both for the security of the sources themselves and for the fulfillment of the tasks of the services.” They also note that informant or agent status does not preclude conviction in case of illegality. Deny, deny, deny! this is the golden rule of these services. We never talk about sources or methods,” Mr. Ranstorp insists. “Obviously this case damages their reputation, but they will survive it. »

The file didn’t stop talking about him. In Parliament, several opposition parties are still asking for a commission and a film is being prepared.


Source: L Orient Le Jour

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