An al-Qaeda terrorist held in an Israeli prison for three years will remain in custody, the Jewish state confirmed this week.
Samar Halmi Abdel Latif Al-Barq is an al-Qaeda-trained biological weapons expert of Palestinian descent. He was arrested in 2010 crossing from Jordan into Israel.
Al-Barq’s detention period is set to expire, and Monday the Israeli Supreme Court heard a petition on behalf of the suspect to be transferred to a Palestinian territory. As a rule, Israel allows detention without trial for individuals suspected of terrorism, though the detention comes with an expiration date.
The Justice Ministry, however, asked that the detention period be extended another six months, for fear Al-Barq’s return to Palestine would lead to the establishment of a new al-Qaeda outpost. The request was granted today.
“He has great knowledge in the field of unconventional weapons, with a focus on biological [weapons],” the State Attorney wrote in his response to the court.
“The army command is convinced that his release at this time will be a point of no return for the development of a significant global jihadist infrastructure in the area.”
News also surfaced this week that Israeli authorities have made efforts to release the suspect into several Arab nations, but to no avail. A 2012 document signed by the Ministry of Justice’s Human Rights and Foreign Relations Department asserts “several attempts were made to transfer Mr. Al-Barq to several Arab countries, however up to date no Arab country has agreed to accept him.”
Al-Barq, who hails from Kuwait, has been linked to al-Qaeda since 2001. He was arrested by US officials in Pakistan in 2003 for terrorist activities and was questioned for three months, but was released to Jordan, where he was imprisoned for five years.
Upon release in 2008 he spent an additional two years in the Hashemite Kingdom before attempting to enter Israel. Al-Barq’s lawyer argues the suspect only engaged with al-Qaeda for social purposes.
Al-Barq was reportedly recruited into the terror group by al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.