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World News

German court sentences Islamic State recruiter

CELLE, Germany (Reuters) - A German court on Wednesday sentenced an Iraqi preacher to more than 10 years in prison after finding him guilty of taking part in planning an attack in Germany and collecting funds and fighters for the Islamic State militant group.

Iraqi defendant Ahmad Abdulaziz Abdullah Abdullah, known as Abu Walaa, accused of being "IS' representative in Germany" arrives in a courtroom in Celle, Germany, February 24, 2021. Julian Stratenschulte/Pool via REUTERS

Prosecutors had accused the 40-year-old preacher, identified as Ahmad Abdulaziz Abdullah A. in court documents, of recruiting at least seven individuals who ended up travelling to the Middle East where they fought alongside IS.

Two of the men he had recruited are believed to have killed more than 150 Iraqi soldiers in suicide bombings.

The Higher Regional Court in the northern city of Celle sentenced him to 10-and-a-half years in prison. Three members of the Islamist network he had set up were handed prison terms ranging from four to eight years.

The main suspect, known by the nickname Abu Walaa, which in Arabic means Father of Loyalty, and the three others were arrested in November 2016 in raids in the states of Lower Saxony and North-Rhine Westphalia.

Abu Walaa sat quietly on the stand in court wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt, a white T-Shirt and a face mask that covered parts of this long black beard as he waited for the verdict and senetencing behind a glass cubicle.

The defendants had chosen to remain silent during the trial and did not enter pleas.

Originally an offshoot of al Qaeda, Islamic State took large parts of Iraq and Syria from 2014, imposing a hardline rule with public beheadings and attacks by supporters abroad.

It was defeated by a U.S.-led military coalition which in 2019 captured the group’s last territory in Syria.

The men had held religious lessons during which potential recruits were handed radical Islamic material, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors believe Abu Walaa preached at the Fussilet Mosque in Berlin, which was attended by a failed asylum seeker who killed 12 people at a Christmas market in the German capital last year.

Writing by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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