Ger­man court jails Is­lamist preacher

Kuwait Times - - LOCAL -

One of Ger­many’s most no­to­ri­ous Is­lamist preach­ers, Sven Lau, was sen­tenced yes­ter­day to five and a half years in jail for back­ing a ter­ror­ist group. The Ger­man Salafist con­vert, who had pre­vi­ously sparked out­rage by form­ing a “sharia po­lice” vig­i­lante group, was con­victed for help­ing to re­cruit for Jaish Al-Muha­jireen wal-Ansar (JMA) or Army of Emi­grants and Sup­port­ers.

JMA, which in­cludes Chechens, Uzbeks and Ta­jiks, first emerged in Syria in 2012, is deemed a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion by Ger­many. In Septem­ber 2015, the mil­i­tants pledged al­le­giance to the AlNusra Front, a ri­val group of the Is­lamic State or­ga­ni­za­tion. Pros­e­cu­tors said Lau was the main con­tact for JMA in the west­ern city of Dues­sel­dorf. The 36-yearold had also trav­elled to Syria in Septem­ber 2013 and had pur­chased night vi­sion equip­ment for the ji­hadist group, pros­e­cu­tors said.

Lau, a for­mer fire­fighter, had de­nied the ac­cu­sa­tions when he was ar­rested in De­cem­ber 2015. He ar­gued that his trip to Syria was for hu­man­i­tar­ian rea­sons, de­spite pho­tos show­ing him car­ry­ing a kalash­nikov aboard a tank. Lau has been a con­tro­ver­sial fig­ure in Ger­many, where he sparked out­rage with “sharia po­lice” street pa­trols in the west­ern city of Wup­per­tal in 2014, telling peo­ple to stop drink­ing, gam­bling and lis­ten­ing to mu­sic.

How­ever, a Ger­man court in Novem­ber ruled the vig­i­lante group did not break the law. The city’s dis­trict court ruled that the seven ac­cused mem­bers of the group did not breach a ban on po­lit­i­cal uni­forms when they ap­proached peo­ple while wear­ing orange vests bear­ing the words “Sharia Po­lice”. Judges said there could only be a vi­o­la­tion of the law-orig­i­nally aimed against street move­ments such as the early Nazi party-if the uni­forms were “sug­ges­tively mil­i­tant or in­tim­i­dat­ing”. Separately, Ger­many’s an­titer­ror pros­e­cu­tors an­nounced yes­ter­day the ar­rest of three sus­pected Is­lamists in the north­east­ern city of Gue­strow. The trio are sus­pected of hav­ing pre­pared “an act of vi­o­lence that threat­ens the se­cu­rity of the state”, said fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors in a state­ment, with­out giv­ing de­tails.

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