Brussels (Brussels Morning) An Iraqi preacher suspected of being the head of Islamic State in Germany was sentenced on Wednesday to 10.5 years in prison for supporting terrorism in a trial of members of a recruiting network for foreign Islamist fighters, dpa reported.
The 37-year old Abu Walaa, a former imam at an infamous mosque in Hildesheim that attracted Islamists from across Germany, was found guilty by a Celle court of supporting terrorism and of membership in a terrorist organisation.
Recruited for militia
According to the verdict, Walaa and his three co-defendants recruited young people, predominantly from northwestern Germany, to defend territories in Iraq and Syria controlled by the Islamist terrorist militia.
Walaa’s co-defendants were given custodial sentences of between four and eight year. The longest sentence was handed down to a German-Serbian man who provided his apartment in Dortmund to Anis Amri, an Islamic terrorist who went on to carry out the Berlin Christmas market attack in 2016.
Amri’s links to Walaa’s recruitment network triggered the German police’s initial interest in the group. Part of the prosecution’s case was based on evidence provided by an undercover police informant, who had visited the cell’s prayer room in the Dortmund apartment.
A separate, key witness in the trial was a young man from Gelsenkirchen, who had fallen in with Islamist circles at a young age, but later turned his back on the Islamic State and decided to cooperate with the German authorities.