Macedonia Sends to Jail Six Islamist Recruiters, Fighters

World » SOUTHEAST EUROPE | March 25, 2016, Friday // 19:43
Bulgaria: Macedonia Sends to Jail Six Islamist Recruiters, Fighters A view of the prayer room in Tutunsus mosque displaying the Islamic State (IS) flag, one of the places where a large anti-terrorist operation was held for breaking down a radical Islam cell in Skopje, Macedonia, 6 August 2015. Photo EPA/BGNES

A court in Skopje has sentenced six radical Islamist recruiters and fighters to jail terms of between 5-1/2 to 7 years, Macedonian news agency MIA reported on Friday.

The six entered a plea bargain with the prosecutors.

Rexhep Memishi, an imam in Tutunsus mosque in Skopje, was sentenced to seven years in prison for taking part in a paramilitary organization and recruiting fighters who had joined the civil war in Syria.

Two of the other five people sentenced on Friday had travelled to Syria and were able to join Islamist groups, according to MIA. Both had posted pictures of their actions on social media accounts. Another man tried to reach Syria but was arrested in Turkey and sent back to Macedonia, while the remaining two provided funding and logistics support to the group.

MIA didn’t specify which Islamist groups the convicts had been connected with.

The six people are part of a group of 11 people arrested in police raidacross Macedonia in August 2015 and charged with travelling to the Middle East to join radical Islamist groups or recruiting fighters.

The trial will continue for the remaning five defendants who have pleaded not guilty.

A law adopted last year in Macedonia makes it a crime to take part in a foreign paramilitary organization, to join armed conflicts abroad, or to recruit people for such organizations, MIA recalled. An estimated 100 to 150 Macedonian citizens have travelled to Syria, and more 70 of them have since returned to the country, according to the Macedonian news agency.

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Tags: court, Skopje, Group, Islamist, fighters, recruiters, macedonia
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