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Teen who joined Isis sentenced to 2.5 years

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Teen who joined Isis sentenced to 2.5 years
Photo: YouTube screenshot/ORF
11:22 CEST+02:00
A 17-year-old Austrian youth who joined Islamic State (Isis) militants fighting in Syria has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison by a Vienna court.

He was arrested in March at Vienna airport with serious injuries from a bomb attack in Raqqa. He was 16 when he ran away to Syria, and had been doing an apprenticeship as an insurance salesman in Vienna.  

He told the judge that the options open to young men joining Isis were more limited than he expected - suicide bomber, fighter, or surgeon. He said that whilst he was in Syria between 60 and 70 men were selected to be suicide bombers, among them a young Mexican “who thought that 72 virgins would be waiting for him in paradise”.  

Oliver N. said he wasn't directly involved in the conflict and that he was “just an ambulance driver”. He also denied having attended a terrorist training camp. He said the only time he carried a gun was when he had to guard an Isis house in Kobane.

However, photos posted of him online by Isis show him dressed for battle and heavily armed, urging supporters to “kill infidels”.

Youth psychiatrist Gabriele Wörgötter told the court that Oliver had a tough start in life. His parents divorced when he was four years old. From the age of six he lived in children's homes.

"From an early age he assumed the role of the outsider," Wörgötter said. "He was not taught values ​​such as respect, non-violence and consideration." His search for recognition led him to radical Islamists - whose values he “rapidly and without questions adopted,” Wörgötter said.

She said it was only after being injured that he began to realise he had made a bad choice. She told the court that she believed that he needed a long period of counselling and therapy in order to be rid of any fanatical beliefs.

His lawyer, Wolfgang Blaschitz, told the court that "Oliver is a teenager who exaggerates and tries to present himself as someone he is not." "Burqa is the new punk," he added.

However, the judge had less sympathy and said it was necessary to send a signal to young people that a prison sentence was the consequence for getting involved with extremist groups.

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