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(Jan 02, 2008) On December 5, 2007, the Higher Regional Court (Oberlandesgericht) of Düsseldorf convicted a citizen of Syria and two nationals of Palestine of membership in a terrorist organization and attempted insurance fraud (unpublished trial court decision, as related in Hohe Haftstrafen für Terrorunterstützer in Düsseldorf, FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINE ZEITUNG, Dec. 6, 2007, at 1). The proceeding lasted longer than 18 months and had to be suspended several times to obtain interim decisions on procedural matters from higher courts. More than 200 witnesses were heard. The court viewed the proceeding as a model for future terrorist trials because it involved the application of several new provisions, among them section 129b of the Criminal Code (Strafgesetzbuch, repromulgated Nov. 13, 1998, BUNDESGESETZBLATT I at 3322, as amended), which penalizes membership in a foreign terrorist organization under certain circumstances. It was established in the proceeding that Al Qaeda was a foreign terrorist organization within the meaning of that provision. According to the presiding judge, however, the work of the court had been hampered by new restrictions on electronic surveillance in private dwellings.

The accused Syrian had come to Germany to petition for asylum and had been radicalized at some time by militant Muslims, after which he swore allegiance to Osama bin Laden and took training courses in terrorist warfare in Afghanistan. On his return to Germany, he recruited the two other defendants, and together they schemed to enrich Al Qaeda by committing insurance fraud. The sentences of seven, six, and three-and-a-half years' imprisonment were high by German standards.

Author: Edith Palmer More by this author
Topic: Terrorism More on this topic
Jurisdiction: Germany More about this jurisdiction

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Last updated: 01/02/2008