German, 21, admits in court he was a foreign fighter

2015-04-09 15:06


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Munich - A 21-year-old German of Turkish origin admitted on Thursday on the first day of his trial in a Munich court that he enlisted as a foreign fighter among Islamists battling Damascus.

He told the court that at the time he went to Syria last year, he had believed it was right to fight "infidels".

The judge, Manfred Dauster, asked: "Was it right to kill them?"

"Fighting them? Oh, yes," said the accused. "Unfortunately I don't know all that much about what Islam says." He said he had heard of atrocities by President Bashar Assad's regime and had wanted to help "by fighting, by killing. That was my attitude at the time."

Germany has regularly arrested returning foreign fighters, many of them disillusioned by the violence of the Islamic State and other Islamist groups in Syria and Iraq. The man's name is not being reported in line with privacy guidelines for the media.

Grave violence

Prosecutors, who indicted him for membership in a terrorist group in Syria, say he joined the al-Nusra Front, the Syrian arm of al-Qaeda. He is also charged with preparing for grave violence against a government, Assad's.

Prosecutors say they will show the court an Islamist propaganda video in which the accused is visible.

Arriving in court in a white shirt with his brown hair neatly combed, he waved cheerily to a crowd of relations in the public gallery.

In testimony, he told the court he had been a school dropout in Munich and a heavy marijuana user. He had not been religious, but had been impressed by recruiters for radical Islam who he met in Germany.

Seven other persons are on trial in German courts and hundreds are under investigation on evidence they were foreign fighters.

German police say that, in all, 650 people from Germany have joined the Islamists, including both those who have returned and those who have been killed. About 4 000 persons from Europe are thought to have entered rebel service in Syria or Iraq.

Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  syria  |  germany  |  syria conflict

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