Syrian General Given Asylum in Austria Investigated over War Crime Allegations

A policewoman patrols over a Christmas market in Salzburg on December 20, 2016, as security measures are taken after a deadly rampage by a lorry driver at a Berlin Christmas market. / AFP / APA / BARBARA GINDL / Austria OUT (Photo credit should read BARBARA GINDL/AFP/Getty Images)

A Syrian general who worked for the country’s intelligence service and was granted asylum by Austria during the height of the migrant crisis is now being investigated over allegations of war crimes.

The former military intelligence officer, identified as Khalid H., came to Austria and was granted asylum in 2015 but the claims of his involvement in torture have put into question Austria’s asylum vetting process, Kronen Zeitung reports.

The revelations have led to two individuals, one from the domestic intelligence service, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BVT), and another from the Austrian Asylum Agency (BFA), to be investigated for potential abuse of office.

Initially, the former Syrian general had applied for asylum in France before coming to Austria. According to investigators, the Austrians did not attempt to contact their French counterparts and are accused of not investigating any potential torture allegations during the asylum procedure.

It only took six months for Khalid H.’s asylum application to be approved by Austrian authorities, while in France his application was rejected in 2017 and resulted in an investigation into his connections to war crimes and genocide. Austrian authorities were made aware of the investigation after a Europol investigated was launched earlier this year.

The case is not the first time a war criminal from the Syrian conflict has been found living as an asylum seeker in Europe. Last year, German authorities said that had been tipped off to the presence of 330 known war criminals posing as asylum seekers since the height of the migrant crisis in 2015 from Syria or Iraq.

Earlier in 2018 in Sweden, the migration board reported that the number of war criminals discovered among asylum seekers had doubled in the last two years.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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