Germany jails Islamic extremist for 69 months

24th January 2008, Comments 0 comments

A Moroccan-born man is convicted of supporting al-Qaeda and setting up a terrorist group of his own.

Schleswig, Germany (dpa) - A Moroccan-born man who forged an elaborate Islamist plot with like-minded people he met on the internet was jailed Thursday for more than five years by a German court.

Redouane el-H, 38, who holds German nationality, was convicted of supporting al-Qaeda in Iraq and setting up a terrorist group of his own.

The group was raising funds for a jihad or holy war, but police were observing them and arrested the five in Sweden and Germany before they could do any harm, the trial was told. The others are being tried separately.

"From today's perspective, I realize it was bizarre lunacy," he told the court as the trial drew to a close. "I just don't understand how I ever got involved in it."

El-H, whose full surname has been withheld in media reports, at one point transferred 2,000 euros (2,880 dollars) to help Qaeda-aligned suicide bombers obtain equipment and enter Iraq.

At one point in his trial he briefed the court on code words used by the militants, such as calling a suicide bomber a "taxi driver."

Most of the evidence came from Internet chat logs. The judge said it was the first time evidence had been obtained from phone calls via the Internet and used to convict someone in a German court.

The Moroccan, who attended the University of Kiel in northern Germany from 1996 to 2004, admitted making a vow of loyalty to al-Qaeda figurehead Osama bin Laden but denied being al-Qaeda member.

He showed no emotion as heard the sentence. He was convicted under a tough extra-territorial law that makes it a crime for someone in Germany to establish or belong to a terrorist organization anywhere in the world.

Prosecutors in Schleswig, near the Danish border, had demanded a tougher penalty of 78 months.

Defence counsel had called for his acquittal, arguing that el-H had been in process of setting up a terrorist group, but it had not yet existed at the time of his July 2006 arrest.

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