(New York, N.Y.) – On Wednesday, a German court sentenced a radical Islamic preacher known as Abu Walaa to more than 10 years in prison for his role in planning a terrorist attack in Germany, while also fundraising and recruiting for ISIS. Walaa recruited at least seven fighters to join ISIS, two of whom are believed to have staged suicide bombings that killed more than 150 Iraqi military personnel. In November 2016, German federal prosecutors arrested Walaa and five other men for securing fraudulent loans and committing robberies to fund travel in support of ISIS. Walaa has been accused of taking “the leading role as the representative of the so-called Islamic State in Germany” and running a “pan-regional Salafist-jihadist network.” He was also reportedly linked to the perpetrator of the 2016 Berlin Christmas market attack in which 12 people were killed.
Based in Hildensheim, Germany, Walaa preached at the Deutschsprachiger Islamkreis Hildesheim eV (DIK) mosque from its founding in 2012 until his arrest. Walaa’s lectures were popularized through online videos released through Facebook, where he claimed to be teaching an “authentic understanding of Islam” through his online speeches, videos, and texts. He became known as “preacher without a face,” as he hid his face from the camera during his viral teachings.
Walaa is believed to be the head of an Islamic group focused on recruiting young Muslims in Germany to fight for ISIS. His official Facebook page contained tacit references to violence, and he frequently used al-manhaj.de, an Quranic instruction website closely tied to the Hildesheim mosque. He also ran a YouTube channel and app called AbuWalaa which was supported on both Android and iOS devices. Walaa’s content also appeared on the social media accounts of ISIS members and supporters.
To read CEP’s Abu Walaa resource, please click here.
To read CEP’s Germany resource, please click here.
To red CEP’s ISIS resource, please click here.