October 30, 2014 / 12:09 PM / 5 years ago

German man charged with murder, membership of Syrian 'terror group'

BERLIN (Reuters) - A 27-year-old German man has been charged with membership of a “terrorist organisation”, murder and incitement to murder during the Syrian conflict, the federal prosecutor’s office said.

The indictment against Harun P., who was extradited back to Germany in April, accused him of joining Junud al Sham, described as an Islamist group with several hundred fighters in Syria aiming to depose President Bashar al-Assad.

Harun P. traveled to Syria at the end of September 2013 and became a member of the group, which trained and armed him, the prosecutor’s statement said.

The prosecutors added that he and about 1,600 other jihadists attacked the central state prison in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo in February. Two government soldiers and five inmates died in the assault, the statement said.

He is also accused of trying to incite the group to murder a 16-year-old German girl in Syria, whose relatives were trying to retrieve her. Harun P. believed she could tell German authorities about his whereabouts if she returned, but the group did not agree to his plan, the indictment said.

Germany’s government-funded Institute for International and Security Affairs has described Junud al Sham as a well-trained, predominantly Chechen group which has often cooperated with the Nusra Front, al Qaeda’s official affiliate in the Syrian war.

In September, German prosecutors charged a 35-year-old German man, and a 27-year-old Turk with membership of Junud al Sham, accusing one of making a propaganda film and the other of taking money to the group.

German intelligence estimates about 450 people have left Germany to join jihadist forces in Syria and 150 have returned, 25 with direct combat experience. This week it warned that rising numbers of Chechens or people of Chechen descent were joining radical groups in Syria.

Reporting by Alexandra Hudson; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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