Eight men appeared before the court in Cologne, Germany on Tuesday, after allegedly stealing from a number of churches and schools in order to fund the self-proclaimed Islamic State terrorist group.
In 2013, a church in Cologne was burglarized. Robbers stole a number of religious valuables, including liturgical vessels, collection boxes, and crosses. Last November, authorities arrested ten men believed to be involved, and on Tuesday, eight of those individuals appeared before a German court.
They are believed to have stolen the property with the intent of securing funds for various terrorist groups, including the Islamic State.
The robberies occurred between 2011 and 2014. In addition to the church break-ins, the men also allegedly robbed a number of schools in the area, stealing money, laptops, and a cash card.
While it remains unclear if any of the money obtained from those robberies actually made its way to militants in Syria, the men are believed to have stolen roughly 19,000 euros worth of goods.
The properties were also heavily vandalized.
Prosecutors allege that a 26-year-old Moroccan is the group’s ringleader. That individual has also uploaded a YouTube video in the past, encouraging Muslims to join IS. Prosecutors also claim that the 26-year-old was trained by the Islamic State in Syria.
Germany enacted a law last year which bans support for IS.
“The terror organization Islamic State is a threat to public safety in Germany as well. We are absolutely confronting this threat today,” Defense Minister Thomas De Mazier said, according to International Business Times.
“Today’s ban is directed solely against terrorists who abuse religion for their criminal goals. Germany is a well-fortified democracy, there’s no place here for a terrorist organization which opposes the constitutional order as well as the notion of international understanding.”
On Wednesday, reports also surfaced about the inner workings of the terrorist group’s intelligence service. Those claims on based on the testimony of Nils D., a German member of IS who said he spent eight months working for the group’s “Stormtroopers”
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