Austria Convicts Nine Suspected Jihadists

An Austrian court on Tuesday convicted nine people of Chechen origin arrested last year on their way to join Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists together with their Turkish driver.

The nine, aged 18 to 28, were found guilty of belonging to a "terrorist" organization and given jail terms of between 19 months and three years, except for one who got a suspended sentence, according to the AFP news agency.

Their 34-year-old Turkish driver was given three years, with the court in Vienna ruling that he had already helped Islamists get to Syria to join the ranks of ISIS.

Police arrested the eight men and one woman last August in two cars on the border with Italy after investigators caught wind of two Turks in Vienna arranging transport for would-be jihadists to Syria at a Vienna mosque.

Four of the defendants denied wanting to go to Syria, reported AFP. The others admitted it but said that they merely wanted to live under Islamic law and help the local population.

Presiding judge Andreas Hautz said however that even if they did not intend to fight, the desire to support ISIS, which has overrun swathes of Syria and Iraq, was enough to support a conviction.

He said Western countries had to ensure "that ISIS does not get even bigger and more influential than it already is. This is what we are standing up against and fighting for".

One of the defendants said that he just wanted to go to Bulgaria "to the seaside". Police, however, found screen shots on his mobile phone with maps of the Turkey-Syria border region.

Facing the challenges of Austrians travelling to the Middle East to join jihadist groups, Austria's parliament in February passed a law banning foreign sources of financing to Muslim organizations and requiring imams to be able to speak German.

EU nationals who have returned to Europe after joining the jihadist cause in the Middle East have been implicated in several recent attacks, including the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris in January and an attack on the Brussels Jewish Museum in May 2014.

A top EU official estimated recently that the number of Europeans fighting with jihadist groups in Syria could exceed 6,000.

Last month, ministers from 47 European nations agreed to harmonize their laws to stop so-called foreign fighters travelling to Iraq and Syria.

Under the agreement signed by foreign ministers, countries must criminalize acts such as "participating in an association or group for the purpose of terrorism", "receiving training for terrorism" and "travelling abroad for the purpose of terrorism".

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/196851

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