Islamist allegedly behind threat video tried in Germany
A suspected Al-Qaeda member who allegedly recruited militants and released a propaganda video ahead of the 2009 general election threatening Germany with attacks went on trial here Wednesday.
The 26-year-old defendant, Yusuf Ocak, a German of Turkish origin, appeared in court together with alleged accomplice Maqsood Lodin, a 22-year-old Austrian.
Ocak stands accused of travelling in May 2009 to the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan, seen as the epicentre of global jihad, to take part in armed combat against NATO troops.
Prosecutors say Ocak became one of the founding members of the "foreign terrorist organisation" German Taliban Mujahideen in September 2009.
They say that Ocak appeared in a chilling Internet video the same month, just days before Chancellor Angela Merkel faced re-election, saying that Germany would face a "rude awakening" if she failed to pull Berlin's troops out of Afghanistan.
Ocak is believed "to have threatened action against Germany in a video seen on September 25, 2009 on the Internet in which pictures of the Brandenburg Gate (in central Berlin), buildings in Frankfurt and the Oktoberfest (beer festival in Munich) were seen," a spokesman for the Berlin appellate court told AFP.
German authorities boosted security measures in several cities in light of the criticism.
Berlin currently has more than 5,100 troops in Afghanistan, the third largest contingent in the NATO-led ISAF force.
The spokesman said that an analysis of the voice in the video had led investigators to Ocak, who was extradited from Austria in June last year.
Prosecutors say that Ocak met Lodin in 2010, returned to Europe in January 2011 and together tried to drum up recruits and funding in Germany for Al-Qaeda on the orders of a "leading member" of the militant network.
He said that both defendants declined to address the allegations against them in court Wednesday. They are both charged with membership of a terrorist organisation and could face 10 years in prison if convicted.
The trial is expected to run until at least late June.
© 2012 AFP