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MfD: Former Prague imam, his relatives accused of terrorism

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Prague, Jan 23 (CTK) – The Czech police have accused former Prague imam Samer Shehadeh, his brother Omar Shehadeh and the brother’s wife Fatima (formerly Kristyna Hudkova) of terrorism and the latter two of joining a terrorist group fighting in Syria, daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) wrote on Tuesday.

All the three suspects are Czech citizens, the two men are of Palestinian origin. They have been prosecuted as fugitives, the paper writes, citing the Czech National Centre for Organised Crime (NCOZ).

The former imam helped his brother and the brother’s wife travel abroad, join a terrorist group in Syria and he approved their actions, MfD writes.

Omar Shehadeh travelled to a war zone in Syria, via Jordan and Turkey, in October 2016 and joined the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham group, a successor to Al Nusra, in Idlib. He was trained in fighting with arms and then chosen for training for committing terrorist attacks, the paper writes.

Before his departure, Omar lived in Mratin, a small village near Prague.

Samer Shebadeh fled the Czech Republic in October 2016 when the police showed interest in him over a message he sent through the WhatsApp application to Czech Muslims, warning them against taking part in a Christian religious service. He keeps hiding in Mauretania, the paper writes.

Muneeb Alrawi, head of the Czech Centre of Muslim Communities, distanced himself from Shehadeh if he had any possible links to terrorists, MfD writes.

Alrawi said he has not had any contact with Samer Shehadeh for at least two years.

He told the paper the Muslim community registered Shehadeh’s fundamentalist views in the past.

The accusation of Samer Shebadeh may have far-reaching consequences for the rather small Muslim community in the Czech Republic, Miroslav Mares, an expert in extremism, told MfD.

“He was a person with a high position in the Muslim community and with a considerable influence. The community has always been telling it is moderate. Now this image seems to crack. We should not ignore it and the secret services should monitor the situation, especially if these people returned to our territory,” Mares said.

Shehaded’s firm leases rooms in the centre of Prague and the Muslim community rented them from it and used it as a mosque, the paper writes.

Kristyna Hudkova, 24, was from the village of Horin, north of Prague. According to MfD sources, she became a radical Muslim under the influence of an Uzbek living in Central Bohemia, the region surrounding Prague.

In March 2017, Hudkova flew from Prague to Turkey, but the Turkish authorities returned her because she wanted to cross the border with Syria and marry Omar whom she had never seen before. She was sent there by Samer. After her forced return to the Czech Republic, Samer bough her a coach ticket to Turkey and this time she succeeded in getting to Syria and she changed her name to Fatima, MfD writes, citing police documents.

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