French jihadist gets 22 years in prison for recruiting Islamists to Syria
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French jihadist gets 22 years in prison for recruiting Islamists to Syria

Mourad Fares found guilty of enlisting youths to Islamic State, leading al-Nusra Front terrorist cell

FILE - In this June 16, 2014. file photo, demonstrators chant pro-Islamic State group slogans as they carry the group's flags in front of the provincial government headquarters in Mosul, Iraq. (AP Photo, File)
FILE - In this June 16, 2014. file photo, demonstrators chant pro-Islamic State group slogans as they carry the group's flags in front of the provincial government headquarters in Mosul, Iraq. (AP Photo, File)

AFP — A Frenchman has been sentenced to 22 years in prison for seeking to recruit dozens of youths to fight as jihadists in Syria and for leading a brigade of French-speaking Islamists in the war-torn country.

Mourad Fares, 35, fled Syria in 2014, and was arrested in Turkey and handed over to French authorities the same year.

Prosecutors said he played a “crucial” role in the recruiting of young people to fight as jihadists in Syria, and noted a lack of any “real regret” for his actions.

Fares appeared unmoved as the verdict was read out at a special court Friday evening.

He admitted to the court he “indirectly” recruited youths to fight as jihadists via his propaganda videos and “facilitated” the entry of a number of people into Syria.

He denied taking part in combat operations in Syria, where he traveled in 2014.

A court sketch made on January 20, 2020 shows suspected IS recruiter Mourad Fares standing during his trial in Paris over accusation of taking part in a criminal organization of a terrorist association.
(Benoit PEYRUCQ/AFP)

But prosecutors said he “participated in armed actions” with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also ISIS), later known as the Islamic State group, before leaving to a join a cell of French-speaking jihadists affiliated with the al-Nusra Front.

The court also found Fares guilty of leading this cell.

France has been on high alert since a wave of jihadist attacks that began in 2015 which have killed more than 250 people.

Dozens of French citizens left to join IS in Syria and Iraq before US-led coalition forces dislodged the insurgents from their so-called caliphate last year.

IS leaders also urged followers in France to stage attacks on their own, often targeting security forces, and officials have said the threat of further IS-inspired attacks remains high.

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