German Islamic Extremist Is Convicted of Supporting Terror Group

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BERLIN — A German court on Wednesday sentenced one of the country’s best-known Islamic extremists to more than five years in prison for raising money and recruiting people for the Islamic insurgency in Syria.

The Düsseldorf state court found the man, Sven Lau, 36, guilty of “serving as a contact for those willing to leave the country and fight” with the Army of Emigrants and Helpers, known by the Arabic acronym Jamwa, which is close to the Islamic State.

“From July to November 2013, he played a significant role in bringing two men living in Germany to a Jamwa unit in Syria,” Frank Schreiber, the presiding judge, said in his ruling. One of the men went on to fight with the group in Syria.

Mr. Lau supplied the group with money he had collected in Germany and military materials, including night-vision goggles. He was given a sentence of five years and six months in prison, which the judge said reflected the severity of the crime, despite Mr. Lau’s lack of a previous criminal record.

Mr. Lau’s lawyer had sought to have his client acquitted, arguing that the prosecution built its case on the testimony of a notorious liar. He said he planned to appeal the ruling.

German intelligence officials estimate that 930 people have left Germany to fight alongside Islamic extremists in Iraq and Syria, and about 145 are known to have been killed.

German courts are clogged with dozens of trials of terrorism suspects, many of whom are returnees from the war in Syria. But Mr. Lau stood out for his role as a ringleader in the country’s domestic scene of extremists, also known as Salafists.

German authorities observed Mr. Lau, a German who converted to Islam as a young man, for years as he sought to attract young people to Islamic life.

He tried to open a school supported by a network called Invitation to Paradise. In 2014, he organized a group of young men to patrol the streets of an ethnically diverse neighborhood in the western city of Wuppertal. The patrol wore orange security vests emblazoned with “Shariah Police,” provoking outrage in Germany.