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Radical ISIS preacher jailed for six years in Austria

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HOFFMAN/EPA
12:45 CET+01:00
A radical preacher who sent a young Muslim father to his death in Syria and then asked his young wife to join his harem has been jailed for six years for terrorism.

A court in the Austrian city of Graz heard that the 42-year-old imam, originally from Chechnya, persuaded several young men to head to Syria to join in the jihad including the woman's husband.

The court heard that three of those had lasted only a few days after they ended up fighting on the frontline, including the husband of the young woman who the preacher had then offered to accept as his third wife. He also agreed to adopt her three children whose father he had sent to his death.

The woman was also on trial after the court heard that she had been inspired by his offer, and had attempted to head to Syria with her three children.

Her new husband, who had kindly offered to look after her and the children after her husband's tragic death, was not a qualified imam but had been preaching at a mosque in Graz.

The court heard that his young wife was only stopped at the border after her family complained that she was going there to join ISIS. They later admitted that they had no proof, and acted out of desperation to stop her taking the three children out of the country.

Also on trial was a man who had been to Syria to shoot a propaganda film and a third who, having been identified as a former fighter for ISIS, has now been taken into the Austrian witness protection programme.

The three men and the woman were all convicted of membership of a terrorist organisation. While the preacher received a six year jail sentence, the two other men were sentenced to five years behind bars and the woman to 15 months.

The prosecutor said that all three men deserved the toughest sentence, saying: "Austria seems to be ideal for people from Chechnya. From here the men go to Syria to fight while they leave their women behind to be cared for and protected by the state, which keeps them safe. In Syria, what they are doing in ISIS has nothing to do with fighting against Assad, it is about robbery, murder and modern-day slavery."

He added that ISIS was nothing more than fascism and no different from National Socialism or Communism under Stalin.

He said: "These men only think they’re big when they have a machine gun in their hands, and if not then they are very cowardly and hide behind the women they use to tell lies."

As well as the three men and the young woman, the other two on trial were tragically the sister and mother of the imam's third wife, who stopped her travelling to ISIS by reporting them to authorities claiming she was going to fight for ISIS, when in fact they had no evidence and only wanted to stop her leaving the country with the three children.

The prosecutor accepted that they had acted out of desperation, and asked for the court to take that into consideration. As a result they mother and sister were given three month and five month suspended sentences respectively.

Story continues below…

The mother told the court that her daughter who used to dye her hair and was a happy child, had changed completely after visiting the mosque. The girl, herself the woman’s oldest daughter, said that she wanted to travel to Syria, to live as a proper Muslim, which was not possible in Austria, and to have her children raised under Sharia law.

All three men said they plan to appeal the verdict, and the woman appealed for time to consider.

Austria, a majority Catholic country, has seen dozens of its citizens join the jihadist cause in Syria or Iraq, sparking concerns about the national security threat posed by those who return from the war-ravaged countries.

Story courtesy of Central European News.

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