Germany charges 20-year-old citizen with ISIL membership

by Reuters
Tuesday, 24 June 2014 16:12 GMT

BERLIN, June 24 (Reuters) - Germany has charged a 20-year-old German citizen with joining a banned militant Islamist group during six months he spent in Syria last year and also with taking arms training and plotting attacks.

The federal prosecutor's office named the individual in a statement on Tuesday only as Kreshnik B. from Frankfurt am Main, as is customary in Germany. He is charged with membership of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), whose fighters have made big territorial gains in Iraq over the past two weeks.

The case highlights European concerns about citizens who join militants battling to oust Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, become radicalised and battle-hardened there and then return to pose a threat to their home country.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere last week called such people a "deadly danger" to Europe. About 2,000 Europeans are believed currently to be fighting with the Islamist rebels in Syria, including some 320 from Germany.

Kreshnik B., driven by his radical religious convictions, . travelled via Istanbul to Syria, the prosecutors said. After joining ISIL he underwent weapons training and acquired a firearm. He was deployed for medical and guard duties by ISIL, but also took part in several battles.

He was arrested after returning to Germany and was initially charged with planning attacks.

German intelligence services estimate about 100 German jihadists have returned from Syria.

ISIL, a splinter group of al Qaeda, wants to set up an Islamic caliphate encompassing both Iraq and Syria.

In its military offensive this month, it captured Iraq's second largest city, Mosul, other towns and major border crossings with Syria. (Reporting by Anja Nilsson; Editing by Alexandra Hudson and Gareth Jones)

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