A German court has sentenced 37-year-old Abu Walaa to ten and a half years in prison for his role in trying to radicalise young people and recruit them for the Islamic State terrorist group.
Abu Walaa, whose real name is Ahmad Abdulaziz Abdullah A., was originally arrested alongside four other Islamic radicals in 2016 and had come to Germany as an asylum seeker in 2000 after fleeing his native Iraq along with members of his family.
The conviction comes after a nearly four-year trial that began in 2017 but despite the conviction, the lawyer for Walaa has maintained that prosecutors were not able to prove their case fully, Deutsche Welle reports.
Over the years, Walaa had managed to gain a strong following on social media, gathering at least 25,000 followers on a Facebook page alone and is said to have posted his sermons without showing his face, leading for him to be nicknamed the “faceless preacher.”
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— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) February 12, 2021
Federal prosecutors used several witnesses, including a former member of the Islamic State terror group who connected Walaa to the organisation and another informant was exempt from testifying at the trial due to fears for his own safety.
Peter Krieger, the lawyer for Walaa, rejected the main witness testimony and labelled the former Islamic State member who claimed Walaa’s network had helped him get to ISIS territory in the Middle East a “crook.”
A member of Walaa’s network is also said to have had contact with Berlin 2016 Christmas Market terrorist Anis Amri.
The Tunisian asylum seeker turned terrorist had also attended a Berlin mosque where Walaa had preached in the past but no direct connection between the two was proven during the case.
The Deutschsprachiger Islamkreis Hildesheim (DIK) group, which was led by Walaa and had contact with Amri, was also raided and banned in 2017.
Radical Islamic terrorism remains a high threat to German security in 2021, with police in Germany and Denmark breaking up an alleged terror cell earlier this month and arresting 14 people in connection with a potential terror plot.
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— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) February 15, 2021