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German imam sentenced to prison for helping Islamic State

Abu Walaa, born in Iraq, convinced Germans to fight for the Islamic State, according to the court.
Iraqi defendant Abu Walaa, described as the Islamic State group's de facto leader in Germany, hides his face as he arrives at court for the verdict of his trial on February 24, 2021 in Celle, central Germany. - A German court hands down on february 24 its ruling in a case against Abu Walaa, a notorious Iraqi preacher believed to be the Islamic State jihadist group's de facto leader in Germany. Ahmad Abdulaziz Abdullah Abdullah, better known as Abu Walaa, is accused of being "IS' representative in Germany" a

A German court has convicted an imam for sending young people to join the Islamic State (IS).

Abu Walaa was found guilty of supporting and being a member of a terrorist organization. He was sentenced to 10½ years in prison, Germany’s public broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported on Wednesday.

Walla was born in Iraq and came to Germany seeking asylum. He and his associates radicalized young people in northern and western Germany and sent them to places where IS was fighting, according to prosecutors. Walaa’s defense demanded an acquittal. Three co-defendants were also sentenced to prison terms between four and eight years, according to Deutsche Welle.

More than 1,000 Germans joined IS in Iraq in Syria and a portion have since returned. In December, Germany also repatriated women and children of IS fighters from the al-Hol camp in Syria.

The US government has also taken legal action against foreigners who allegedly helped IS in Iraq and Syria. In October, British citizens El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey, nicknamed the Beatles, were charged with murdering American hostages, including journalist James Foley. They were flown to the United States from US custody in Iraq to stand trial and pled not guilty.

Also in October, the United States charged Americans Emraan and Jihad Ali with supporting a terrorist organization. Emraan and his then 14-year-old son Jihad allegedly moved to Syria to join IS in 2015.

IS remains active in Iraq and Syria, despite no longer having any territory. IS still conducts bombings and assassinations in its former Syrian capital, Raqqa. The group has also recently increased attacks in Sunni-majority areas of Iraq.

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