Would-be Czech Islamic State soldier testifies to police

Illustrative photo: Czech Television

The first ever Czech citizen to be charged with attempting to join the so-called Islamic State has been giving testimony to Czech police. The suspect has reportedly confessed to being prepared to carry out executions in the name of the terror group.

Illustrative photo: Czech Television
He has only been identified as “Jan S.” – a supposed small town malcontent who decided, for reasons not yet fully clear, to travel to Syria via Turkey back in January, apparently with the intent of fighting for the terrorist organisation ISIS. The suspect was arrested at Istanbul Airport on February 5 trying to board a flight to Gaziantep, a town near the Syrian border frequently used by new ISIS recruits. He was subsequently sent back to the Czech Republic, where he has been arraigned in custody since July.

Czech Radio has just secured new details of the evidence provided to an arraignment hearing this August in a Plzeň regional court. At that time, the suspect appealed against his detention; the court ultimately ruled that the suspect should be reprimanded in custody, as a real risk existed that he may try to either carry out attacks or abscond. The details on the suspect include the location of his home village, namely Spálené Poříčí, which lies just east of the city of Plzeň. The suspect’s testimony is also described in the court documents, with “Jan S.” reportedly admitting that he was indeed travelling to Syria with the full intent of killing in battle, or later executing, American and Russian soldiers engaged in battles against ISIS. The suspect also confessed to seeking to want to join the terrorist group while in Turkish custody. He then affirmed this intent while interviewed by Czech police, adding that he wanted to battle for ISIS and help the terror group to expand its territory across Africa and the Middle East.

The suspect is understood to have gotten the idea to join ISIS in early 2014, establishing a Twitter account and seeking out all available information and contacts with the group. Considerable planning then went into the trip to Syria, involving the purchase of a one-way ticket to Gaziantep, followed by the hire of a car to continue onwards to the town of Jarabulus and contact ISIS fighters there. This, confessed “Jan S.”, was to be followed by two to three months of training before he was sent on missions to fight enemies of the terror group.

A Czech colleague of the suspect, identified only as “Martin”, spoke to Czech Radio and described his work as a model machine tool worker:

Illustrative photo: Czech Television
“For one he was very laborious. One of the few people to meet work targets around here… He never talked about politics or anything like that. In fact, he was very quiet. Unless a person spoke to him, then he wouldn’t even speak…He was basically a loner. Everyone else would go off and talk during lunch, but he would sit at the table alone and continue his work.”

“Jan S.”, who is not believed to be of the Muslim faith, is currently undergoing psychiatric assessment, and could be tried on terrorism charges as early as this November. If found guilty, he faces up to 12 years in prison. Investigators are still trying to assess how the suspect came to be “radicalised”, or whether he was simply a mentally disturbed individual who developed a fixation on joining ISIS. According to a New York Times article on the affair published in August: “The Czech Republic would seem one of the least fertile grounds in Europe for the Islamic State to seek to recruit Islamic terrorists”.

The suspect’s lawyer, Vojtěch Dragún, has declined to speak to the media. But court documents obtained by Czech Radio suggest that the suspect has now renounced his interest in ISIS and desire to travel to that part of the world.