Monday, November 03, 2014

Convert to Islam Tests Boundaries of Germany’s Terror Laws

Standoff between Islamist preacher Sven Lau and German security agents shows the difficulty of drawing a clear line between opinion and sedition.

By Anton Troianovski, WSJ
Nov. 2, 2014 10:35 p.m. ET

WUPPERTAL, Germany—Fundamentalist Islamic preacher Sven Lau claims he has a simple test to separate undercover officers from passersby. He gives them the finger. If they don’t respond, he said, “they’re intelligence agents.”

German authorities have spent at least eight years monitoring Mr. Lau, a 34-year-old ex-firefighter from a Catholic family who now practices a strict form of Islam known as Salafism.

Officials say Mr. Lau is one of the most prominent Islamic preachers in Germany, with a charismatic message that lures young Germans into radical Muslim circles. The head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency called Mr. Lau one of the country’s “best-known propagandists.” Authorities allege Mr. Lau inspired some of his followers to join Islamic militants in Syria and Iraq, and fear they will eventually spawn terror attacks in Germany and the West.

Mr. Lau, who has delivered sermons to hundreds of listeners at town squares across Germany, denies the allegation. Despite wiretaps and searches of his home and computers by authorities, he remains free. He denied any ties to terrorism or the extremist group Islamic State—“I’m not pro-IS,” he said—and described his past trips to Syria as humanitarian work.

(More here.)

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