Three years ago, an IS terrorist cell in Germany decided to take up arms. But the security authorities already had the men in their sights. Now they have been convicted.

The Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court has convicted five men as IS terrorists and sentenced them to up to nine and a half years in prison.

According to the judges, the 25 to 34-year-old Islamists belonged to a terrorist cell of the Islamic State, which was supposed to carry out attacks in Germany on the instructions of leading IS cadres.

The allegations of the prosecution were “confirmed in full,” said the presiding judge Jan van Lessen. Numerous applications for evidence by the defense attorneys, on the other hand, “did not contribute to the clarification, but only delayed the process”.

Terror cell planned attacks

The terrorist cell was founded in early 2019 and, on the instructions of an IS cadre from Afghanistan in Germany, was not only supposed to solicit donations and recruits for armed jihad, but also to carry out attacks.

The court was also able to rely on the statements of the co-founder of the terrorist cell, who had already been sentenced to seven years in prison. The 31-year-old had heavily burdened his accomplices.

He had confessed that the group wanted to collect $40,000 for a contract killing in Albania and shoot a businessman in the capital Tirana. The murder failed at the last moment because the men had doubts about the identity of their target.

Then a critic of Islam in Neuss came into the focus of the terrorists through his YouTube channel “Ex-Muslims clarify”. The group had received instructions from Afghanistan to “set an example” and “kill the unclean bastard”. According to instructions, the body of the Islam critic should be filmed or photographed in order to show it in an IS propaganda video on the Internet.

Men were already known to the police

The accused had already spied on the critic, who had converted to Christianity. Because some of them had been monitored by the police for a long time as potential threats, special forces were able to prevent the attack. According to the authorities, three of them were already considered dangerous, two as “relevant persons”.

The five men were monitored, their conversations in the car overheard, their phones tapped, emails and online chats read. The court imposed three years and eight months imprisonment as the lowest sentence.

The Tajiks had all come to Germany as refugees and lived in North Rhine-Westphalia: in Essen, Kreuztal, Neuss, Selfkant and Siegen. Her defense attorneys had requested acquittals or, alternatively, short prison sentences. The prosecutors had asked for prison sentences of between four and twelve years.

The trial of the five accused began a year ago and lasted 48 days. The verdict is not yet legally binding.