A Syrian national convicted of aiding and abetting his Islamist terrorist brother in his plans to blow up a Swedish church has been handed a year’s probation by a German court because he had expressed a desire to integrate into Western society.
The two brothers, both of whom arrived in Germany back in 2015, were arrested on April 25 this year after counter-terrorism police received intelligence about the older brother’s attempts to purchase bomb-making equipment.
After seizing the cell phone and other digital equipment in possession of 29-year-old Anas K., authorities learned he had been liaising with an individual via an end-to-end encryption messaging app regarding how to “take revenge on anyone who insults our faith,” and had chosen the “crusading country of Sweden” as his primary target, according to Die Welt newspaper.
The unknown man was named “Emir” and was reportedly a member of the Al-Saqri Institute for War Studies, a group closely affiliated with Islamic State.
The chat history between the pair revealed how a church in Sweden had been targeted for the attack after the high-profile public burning of a Quran earlier this year had outraged Anas K. He planned to detonate one explosion at an unspecified church and keep another bomb in reserve to be detonated upon the arrival of the emergency services and helpers.
Syrian brothers arrested in Germany planned to blow up packed Swedish church
Investigators have concluded that both brothers intended to build a suicide vest and carry out an act of terror on an unspecified Christian place of worship
The Hamburg Higher Regional Court heard at trial how Anas K. had sought to make a suicide belt and had attempted to purchase two kilos of urea fertilizer which can be turned into urea nitrate, a key component for making a bomb.
When delivery of the ingredients was unsuccessful, he called upon his younger brother, 24-year-old Ahmad K. to purchase the goods.
The younger brother did so willingly, setting up an anonymous email address to track the package.
The presiding judge said during sentencing that the younger brother “must have been aware of the intention”.
“He clearly knew that his brother was planning an attack,” the judge added.
The older brother was sentenced this week to four years and nine months imprisonment for preparing a serious act of violence that endangered the state and for financing terrorism.
However, the younger brother received one year’s probation with the sentencing judge granting him leniency due to the fact that “the defendant has shown with his school qualifications and his lifestyle that he wants to integrate.”
He cited Ahmad K.’s graduation from secondary school, his desire to work as a biology laboratory technician, and the fact he had found himself a German girlfriend as evidence of his commitment to Western society, and insisted the defendant did not possess a jihadist-Islamist worldview.