Christof Stache  /  AP
Amin Lokman Mohamed was sentenced to seven years in prison by a German court for membership in a foreign terrorist organization and aiding militants in Iraq.
updated 1/12/2006 7:07:32 AM ET 2006-01-12T12:07:32

A German court on Thursday convicted an Iraqi man of aiding a terror group in his home country and sentenced him to seven years in prison.

Amin Lokman Mohamed, 33, was convicted of membership in a foreign terrorist organization and human trafficking for helping Ansar al-Islam, a group linked to al-Qaida, presiding Judge Bernd von Heintschel-Heinegg said.

Federal prosecutors said Monday that Mohamed, who came to Germany as an asylum seeker in 2000, had made a “comprehensive” confession to authorities and was willing to assist in upcoming trials of other suspected Ansar al-Islam members.

Mohamed acknowledged smuggling at least eight volunteers from Europe to Iraq before his arrest in Munich in December 2003, including one who was allegedly killed in the fighting. He helped others travel in the opposite direction, including an alleged Ansar al-Islam bomb maker.

Mohamed also raised money and procured radio communications equipment and binoculars for the group and had close contact with its leaders in Iraq and Iran, authorities said.

The sentence was in line with prosecutors’ call for a seven-year term — three years less than the legal maximum. Defense attorneys pleaded for a lesser punishment, arguing that he was not actually a member of the group.

Test of new laws
Mohamed’s lawyers also referred to what they called the disputed legality of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and suggested that attacks on coalition forces and Iraqi police should not be considered terrorism.

The case was the first test of a new German counterterrorism law that made it illegal to be a member of a foreign terrorist organization. The law was passed after it was revealed that three of the Sept. 11 hijackers had lived undetected in the northern German city of Hamburg.

Judges had listened to hundreds of hours of wiretaps and questioned witnesses including investigators looking into support networks for Ansar al-Islam in countries including Italy and Sweden.

German authorities have opened at least three other cases against alleged members and supporters of the group, including three men charged with plotting to kill former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi during a visit to Germany in 2004.

Ansar al-Islam was formed in the Kurdish parts of Iraq and is believed to include al-Qaida members who fled the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2002. Its bases along the Iranian-Iraqi border were bombed at the start of the Iraq war, and the group’s members scattered.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, whose followers have claimed responsibility for numerous car bombings and beheadings of foreigners, is believed to have played a role in the group after fleeing Afghanistan.

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