Sven Lau: German preacher jailed on Syria charges

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Radical Islamic convert Sven Lau speaks to Salafi supporters at a public gathering on 14 March 2015 in Wuppertal, GermanyImage source, Getty Images
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Sven Lau was well-known in ultra-conservative, Salafist Muslim circles in Germany

An Islamist preacher found guilty of supporting the Jamwa group of Islamist foreign fighters in Syria has been jailed for five-and-a-half years in Germany.

Sven Lau, 36, recruited two fighters and provided the group with money and night-vision goggles.

Prosecutors had sought a sentence of a year longer from the Düsseldorf court.

Lau gained notoriety when he created his own self-styled "Sharia police" patrols in Wuppertal, Germany.

He was detained in December 2015 in Mönchengladbach, where he was raised.

Lau's crimes go back to 2013, when he transported two Islamists from Germany to join Jamwa - Jaysh al-Muhajirin wal-Ansar (Army of the Emigrants and Helpers) and provided equipment and funds masquerading as humanitarian aid.

During the trial, the court also heard he had arranged the marriage of another Islamist to a 16-year-old Austrian girl, reported German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

Image source, AP
Image caption,
The "Sharia police" phenomenon caused a stir in Germany in September 2014

In 2014, Lau is said to have led a group of men wearing high-visibility vests emblazoned with "Sharia police" on patrols in Wuppertal, western Germany in a bid to enforce their ultra-conservative interpretation of Islam.

The group ordered people outside nightclubs to stop drinking and listening to music, and also announced a prohibition on gambling.

The initiative resulted in nine arrests, but a court controversially decided no laws had been broken.