His trial is the first in France of an ISIS veteran for crimes committed in Syria.
French authorities suspect the 30-year-old man of being part of the famous Islamic State morality police in Syria, for which he supervised the executions, as well as directing the Katiba Al Mouhajirine, a foreign brigade of combatants French and Belgian.
The group, which included about 40 men, included three members of the Islamic State cell that perpetrated the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris in 2015: Abdelhamid Abaaoud, Samy Amimour and Ismail Mostefai.
The Mouhajirine group is accused of having tortured and executed members of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad’s army as well as members of the Free Syrian Army.
Mr. Vilus admitted having been in contact with Abaaoud who organized the attacks in 2015.
According to a French newspaper The world, speaking in court, Vilus admitted that he had fought with ISIS in Syria, but said his role in the terrorist group had been exaggerated.
“We are not going to lie to each other: yes, I was engaged in jihad, yes, I participated in Islamic State … But I am given a role in Syria that I did not have,” he said. -he says.
Born in Troyes, 140 km southeast of Paris, Mr. Vilus converted to Islam in 2011 before traveling to Tunisia where he joined a conservative mosque. He told the court that 90% of the men who worshiped there went to Syria.
Vilus first visited Syria in 2012 and then decided to settle in the war-torn nation in 2013, saying he intended to fight the Syrian regime in Damascus.
Although he denies supervising the executions as a member of the Islamic State’s religious police, images released by the propaganda arm of the terrorist group in 2015 showed a man alleged to be Mr. Vilus standing nearby as that rebel fighter and a Syrian army soldier were shot in the head.
Likewise, a video from 2014 showed Abaaoud and the other Mouhajirine members who were allegedly commanded by Mr. Vilus while they desecrated a number of corpses in the Aleppo region before burying them in a mass grave.
Mr. Vilus’ mother was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2017 after traveling three times to Syria to visit her son. Given the nickname of Mamie Jihad in the French press, Mr. Vilus wrote to his mother in 2013 to confirm that he had become the head of the Mouhajirine brigade.
Mr. Vilus was arrested in Istanbul in July 2015 while trying to travel on a Swiss passport. He was then deported to France.
Updated: June 26, 2020 18:53