Man behind Germany's "Sharia Police" in court on terrorism charges

Sven Lau, a German-born firebrand known for his attempts to enforce Islamic laws in German public spaces, went on trial Tuesday for allegedly supporting a terrorist organization active in the Syrian civil war.

The 35-year-old, who was born in the west German city of Moenchengladbach and converted to Islam in his teens, is accused of supporting a terrorist group known by the acronym JAMWA, which switched allegiance from Islamic State to al-Qaeda last year.

The court in Duesseldorf has scheduled 30 trial days, during which prosecutors are expected to present evidence that Lau - also known as Abu Adam - recruited people on behalf of JAMWA and provided the group with money and equipment.

Prosecutors say that one of the men Lau recruited is Ismail I, who was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for his activities as a foreign fighter by a court in Stuttgart.

Lau - a follower of Salafism, an ultra-conservative movement within Sunni Islam - faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, the court said.

Lau gained international prominence in 2014, when he founded a group called the Sharia Police.

Members of the organization patrolled the streets in the western city of Wuppertal in an effort to enforce Sharia laws against alcohol consumption, gambling and listening to music among adherents of Islam.

The Sharia Police's activities are subject to prosecution in a separate case.

The group fuelled fears about the perceived Islamization of Germany at a time when the flow of mostly Muslim refugees from countries including Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan was starting to gather pace.

In 2015, Lau was arrested on suspicion of recruiting fighters on behalf of Islamic State, but he beat the charges because of a lack of evidence in the case.

Last update: Tue, 06/09/2016 - 15:13
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