Germany arrests Islamist preacher accused of supporting terror group

Salafist preacher Sven Lau speaks to supporters at a gathering in Wuppertal, Germany, in March.

Story highlights

  • German authorities have arrested a convert to radical Islam on suspicion of supporting terror
  • CNN affiliate ARD named him as Sven Lau, 35, known nationally for his "Sharia patrols"
  • He is accused of acting as the German arm of a Syrian terror group allied to ISIS

(CNN)A prominent Islamist preacher was arrested in Germany on Tuesday on suspicion of supporting a terrorist organization in Syria, Germany's attorney general's office says.

In a statement, the office said a nationally known Salafist preacher, whom it identified as 35-year-old Sven L., had been arrested for allegedly acting as the German arm of the Syrian terrorist group Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar since 2013, recruiting jihadists and providing financial and logistical support.
    CNN affiliate ARD identified the preacher as Sven Lau, a German convert to radical Islam who made national headlines as the leader of the self-proclaimed "Sharia police" that attempted to enforce Islamic law on the streets of the city of Wuppertal.
    The attorney general's office said JMA had split into two factions in late 2013, with the suspect's group pledging allegiance to ISIS. The other faction has since pledged allegiance to the al Qaeda-linked al Nusra Front.
    "Sven L." acted as a contact point for Salafists in the Dusseldorf region who wished to fight in Syria and is alleged to have actively supported the terror group on four occasions, the statement said.
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    He is alleged to have put two aspiring jihadists in contact with a JMA fighting unit in Syria and to have bought and delivered three night vision devices, valued at 1,440 euros ($1,570) in total, to the JMA in Syria.
    The statement said the suspect had also personally delivered 250 euros ($275) in cash to a jihadist in Syria in September 2013.
    The JMA was founded in March 2013 and had worked closely with ISIS from the middle of that year until the split in its ranks, the attorney general's office said.
    Last month, German special forces arrested two men after a raid on an Islamic cultural center in Berlin. They were accused of plotting "a significant criminal act against state security," according to authorities.
    German lawmakers voted earlier this month to step up their role in the international fight against ISIS.