3 years, 9 months in prison for German who joined Islamic State group

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German Kreshnik Berisha waits for the verdict in his trial at a higher regional court in Frankfurt, Germany, Friday, Dec. 5, 2014. He is accused of having been a member of the Islamic state group in Syria. He was arrested when he came back to Germany in December 2013. German news agency dpa reports that he has been convicted and sentenced to 3 years and 9 months in prison. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)


German Kreshnik Berisha, left, waits for the verdict in his trial at a higher regional court in Frankfurt, Germany, Friday, Dec. 5, 2014. He is accused of having been a member of the Islamic state group in Syria. He was arrested when he came back to Germany in December 2013. German news agency dpa reports that he has been convicted and sentenced to 3 years and 9 months in prison. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)


BERLIN — A court on Friday convicted a 20-year-old German of joining the Islamic State terrorist group and sentenced him to 3 years and 9 months in prison.

Judges found Kreshnik Berisha, whose parents are from Kosovo, guilty of membership and activity for a foreign terrorist organization, the Frankfurt regional court said in a statement.

Berisha, a Muslim who once played for a Jewish football club, turned to radical Islam three years ago. He traveled to the Turkish city of Istanbul in July 2013, where he and six others were picked up by Islamic State recruiters and taken to Syria, the court said.

Berisha underwent combat training and took part in combat operations near the Syrian city of Hama, but was largely kept away from the front line.

While in Syria he maintained contact with his family in Germany and agreed to their pleas for him to return home five months later. Berisha was arrested at Frankfurt Airport in December 2013.

Judges said Berisha's sentence took account of the fact that he had confessed to his actions and testified during the trial. To his detriment, they considered the "particular threat" posed by the Islamic State group, "which has carried out terrorist attacks and armed assaults in Syria and Iraq which have killed and injured a large number of people."

It was the first case against a suspected member of the group to come to trial in Germany.

The verdict can be appealed.

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