Austria: Imams of a mosque on trial in Linz for supporting the Islamist terrorist organisation IS

The trial concerning the crime of anti-state association against alleged jihadists and members of the Islamic Linz religious association Rahmet continued on Tuesday in the provincial court in the capital of Upper Austria. The Supreme Court had partially overturned the verdicts of the Graz Regional Court last year, which is why the trial is being held again. The trial was delegated to Linz because the defendants and witnesses are mostly residents of Linz.

After the main accused, the imam in the association, who had been questioned at the start of the trial the previous day, on Tuesday it was the turn of his alleged deputy as the second of the three accused. He was the secretary and gave lectures when the imam was not present. He also considers himself innocent and denied all accusations. He had designed the association’s homepage and its website in a social network. He had not known that he had placed the Islamic State flag found on the internet there. He had believed that it was only the harmless seal of the Prophet. He had always rejected IS or the terrorist organisation Jabhat al-Nusra. He confirmed that he had been involved in a Quran distribution campaign, which he described as basically “nice” because it had only had the aim of informing people about Islam.

The Linz association had never collected money for IS-fighters or their equipment, nor for questionable fellow believers in Bulgaria, he further assured. However, the accused confirmed that he had bought a telescopic sight for his brother at his request on a platform in Germany for about 200 euros and had arranged for its transport to Turkey. He had not known, however, that it could be used to upgrade a Kalashnikov rifle. He believed that the brother would sell it for profit in Turkey to earn money. He did not know whether the brother had fought for IS. He believed the brother worked in an aid organisation for Syrian refugees.

The prosecutor also accused him of having downloaded on his computer the partly brutal “44 Ways of Jihad”, an “Invitation to Jihad”, verses on “Orders to War” and a text on Jihad in Somalia. He had not distributed these in the association, the accused defended himself, nor did he support them. The representative of the prosecution also held up to him an intercepted telephone conversation in April 2014, from which he read out that he had known very well about his brother’s IS involvement. The accused described this as a translation error. The chairman of the jury court ordered a break after a discussion about the nature of the questioning.

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