Suspected senior IS leader held in Hungary: prosecutor


Budapest (AFP)

Hungarian police on Friday arrested a Syrian man suspected of being a high-ranking IS leader who organised suicide attacks and executions, following a European cross-border investigation.

The man was arrested in a detention centre in eastern Hungary, Budapest chief prosecutor Tibor Ibolya told the M1 public television channel, describing him as a senior Islamic State (IS) leader.

The 27-year-old had been a member of the group since 2016, said a statement by Ibolya's office.

The man was awaiting deportation from Hungary to Greece -- where he had received refugee status -- when he was arrested after a probe that involved Hungarian and Belgian agencies.

The investigation linked the suspect to the execution of 20 family members in the Syrian city of Homs in 2016.

The victims were beheaded after refusing to join IS, the prosecutor's office said.

"There are reasonable grounds for suspicion that the man personally took part in the execution," it said.

The arrest was coordinated by Eurojust, the EU's judicial cooperation unit.

"Due to the evidence from Belgium, the suspect can now be held by the Hungarian authorities on suspicion of committing terrorist activities," Eurojust said in a statement.

The suspect was first detained at Budapest airport in December last year after he and a woman travelling with him were caught in possession of false identification documents.

He was convicted of human trafficking and other crimes and handed an expulsion order from Hungary, before his arrest on Friday over the new claims.