Eight Islamic extremists recently went on trial in Cologne, Germany for “breaking into schools and churches to send the money they stole to Syria, in support of a religious state of ISIS.”
According to prosecutors, the alleged thieves are between 23 and 59 years old. The oldest member and leader of the group is identified by the court as Mirza Tamoor B. and is a German citizen of Pakistani origin. Three of Mirza’s accomplices are also German citizens, while one is Pakistani.
Officials claim that Mirza asked for and collected hundreds of thousands of dollars for a charity purporting to support victims of the Syrian war. He developed websites that featured children supposedly killed in the war.
Soon after, Mirza then gathered up the young members of his gang to commit the burglaries in Germany. It is not clear how he met his cohorts, but they all wished to commit larceny and jihad.
The break-ins took place between July 2013 and August 2014. All in all, they supposedly got away with about $21,000.
Judge Achim Hengstenberg, the court’s spokesperson, stated that, “Altogether we are talking about nine break-ins, of which some are shops, two or three schools and three churches. In most cases it was money being stolen. In one church [$33.00] was taken.”
But, the burglars had loftier goals when they tried to burglarize St. Augustine Keppel Catholic Church in Hilchenbach-Dahlbruch two days before Christmas.
Despite their best efforts, the incident at St. Augustine Keppel did not go too well for the thieves. The crooks caused extensive damage to the church and, while they attempted to steal the vault containing about $11,000 worth of treasures, they could not open it and had to ditch it. The court is charging them with theft of the whole amount, even though they only got away with about $110 stolen from a cashbox.
Father Friedhelm Rusche sadly described the situation, “That kind of thing touches everyone in a church community. The culprits lack a respect for religion.”
Hengstenberg added that, “Their goal was to use the loot to support persons who in Syria are participating in combat operations.”
Prosecutors claim the thieves financed jihadists traveling to Syria so they could partake in acts of war.