A German gang is in court charged with stealing sacred items from churches and schools to fund jihadists fighting for the Islamic State.
Operating between 2011 and 2014, the gang of eight men allegedly broke into churches and schools, not only stealing items for their scrap value but engaging in acts of vandalism before they left.
A Cologne court heard yesterday how the gang had taken crucifixes and chalices for scrap metal, had stolen collection boxes for the money inside, and had taken other objects “dedicated to church services and religious worship”, reports Deutsche Welle.
From the schools targeted the gang, which prosecutors claim was headed by a 26-year-old Moroccan man, they took money, computers, and a cash card. It was reported in July that the men were also fraudulently collecting state benefits and were using stolen Bulgarian passports and European Union identity cards.
The proceeds from the gang’s actions are believed to have been worth some €19,000 (£14,000), and it is alleged the money was used to fund the Islamic State. It is possible some of the money may have gone towards paying for the ringleader to attend terror training camps with ISIS.
While in Syria, the man appeared in ISIS propaganda videos, calling on German jihadists to take up arms and commit jihad. Three of the men facing trial for the thefts are also on trial for supporting foreign terror organisations.
Raising money is an important part of the daily operations of ISIS sympathisers in the Western world, with money sent back to the Islamic State or used to fund activities in Europe, yet not all the money earmarked for terror activities.
Breitbart reported in August on the case of three Chechen women who had conned $3,300 out of the Islamic State by posing as potential Islamic brides, wanting to travel to the Caliphate for sexual Jihad. When money was sent for their passage to Syria, they decided to use it to go on holiday instead.