Eight suspected Islamic militants charged in Germany

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German federal prosecutors said Tuesday they had charged eight suspected Islamic militants on suspicion of aiding and abetting Al-Qaeda with Internet propaganda.

The seven men and one woman aged between 17 and 30 stand accused of supporting a foreign terrorist organisation and belonging to a criminal organisation, the federal prosecutor's office said in a statement.

The group, which was charged on September 22, includes seven German citizens and a Turkish national.

The prosecutor's office said the suspects belong to the German chapter of the Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF) and attempted to lure recruits to Al-Qaeda with online propaganda between August 2006 and March 2008.

"This association of militant Islamists has the goal of offering media-backing for the terrorist activities of the global jihad movement on the Internet," the statement said.

"To spread radical-Islamist propaganda, the German GIMF chapter ran several online services including blogs and Internet forums."

Prosecutors said one of the suspects, identified only as Renee March S., signed up for training with Al-Qaeda in 2007 but returned home when he was unable to make contact with an operative who was to take him to the camp.

Security officials have grown increasingly concerned about the threat of "homegrown terrorists" among Germany's four-million strong Muslim minority, amid a raging debate about the integration of immigrants.

Authorities in June put the number of people living in Germany who have attended militant training camps, or who intended to, at around 200 since the early 1990s, of whom 65 received training.

© 2010 AFP

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