Germany jails Iraqi Islamist for seven years

12th January 2006, Comments 0 comments

12 January 2006, MUNICH - An Iraqi Kurd who raised funds for terrorist groups and recruited militants to go home to Iraq to fight was sentenced Thursday to seven years' jail under tough new German legislation.

12 January 2006

MUNICH - An Iraqi Kurd who raised funds for terrorist groups and recruited militants to go home to Iraq to fight was sentenced Thursday to seven years' jail under tough new German legislation.

Lokman M., 33, was convicted by the state superior court in Munich of being a member of Ansar al-Islam, a northern Iraqi Islamist movement blamed for attacks on both secular Kurds and U.S. forces.

Judges said M. had recruited young Iraqis wishing to join a "jihad" or holy war and had arranged their travel to Iraq, had procured money, computers and radios for the group and had also been a trafficker who helped 70 Iraqis enter Europe illegally.

Defence lawyers had suggested a much milder sentence, arguing that M. did not regard himself as a member of Ansar al-Islam, and was just very committed about his religious views without belonging to a particular organization.

For Germany, which extended its anti-terrorism laws from German to international terror groups after the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, the case was a legal landmark, as the first conviction involving a group with no other presence on German soil.

The laws make it a crime to be a member of a terrorist organization in Germany or abroad, without the police having to prove that the accused personally committed a murder or other felony.

Prosecutors' success in the case means that trials of other Islamists can proceed this year.

Presiding judge Bernd von Heintschel-Heinegg said Thursday the bench would have imposed a tougher sentence on the Sunni Moslem if he had not admitted his activities. He praised M. for a public appeal to Islamists to stop suicide attacks.

"That suggests you have gained understanding and sense," he said.

M. had been a "leading figure" of Ansar al-Islam in Germany.

"He was not doing this to support a battle for liberation. He wanted to impose a theocracy, a mini-Talebanstan," said the judge in a reference to the former Taleban Islamist rule of Afghanistan.

Reconstructing the story of Ansar al-Islam, the judge said it had mounted bomb attacks that killed many people. It and other small Islamist groups had later merged into a group named Jaish Ansar al- Sunna, for which M. also worked.

In Munich, Bavarian Interior Minister Guenther Beckstein welcomed the verdict, saying it was an "appropriately strict and just punishment for a dangerous helper to the terrorists".

DPA

Subject: German news

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