Four teenage boys received light sentences after they were all accused of not only supporting the Islamic State terrorist group, but also creating videos to promote their ideas.
A court in the Austrian city of St. Pölten handed out light sentences to four teenage boys who stood accused of creating propaganda videos for the Islamic State terror group (ISIS). The boys who were all 16-years-old, were all convicted of spreading propaganda fro the group but none will face prison time as two were handed a suspended sentence and the remaining pair were given probation, reports Austria’s largest paper Kronen Zeitung.
The evidence of the case relied on the cell phones and computers of the four teenagers which revealed a large collection of various ISIS propaganda videos including gruesome executions of prisoners. One of the young men even set up a YouTube channel to spread the message of the terrorist group.
The teens claimed that the Koran justified the actions of ISIS and that any news reports of atrocities committed by the group were fiction created to demonise them by the West. One of the boys, in reaction to the Paris attacks in November of 2015, wrote “Allah u Ackbar” on Facebook to celebrate the horrific massacre.
Of the four teenagers on trial none were native Austrians. Three of the teens were from Russia and the remaining young man originated from Kosovo. According to the court, all four of the young migrant men had a connection to a 15-year-old Islamist who had planned an attack on the Vienna Westbahnhof train station in 2014.
The teen in that legal case had been in custody but was released in 2015 and this year was put in prison again because instead of going back to school he sent ISIS propaganda to his friends and tried actively to join the Caliphate in Syria.
The Islamic State has made it a priority to recruit young teenage Muslims into its ranks over the last year. A French scholar of Islam has even claimed that the recruiting of such young people into Salafist extremism could lead Europe down the path of civil war.
In neighbouring Germany multiple attacks have been carried out by underage Muslims who sympathise with ISIS on police and bystanders. The terror group has taken responsibility for several attacks like the Wuerzburg train attack and others like the attempted bombing of a Sikh Temple in Essen are thought to have been heavily influenced by their propaganda.
Thomas Mücke, co-founder and managing director of the Violence Prevention Network in Berlin worries that young Muslims, including recent migrants, may be easy prey for ISIS recruiters as they become more and more frustrated with a system that does not give them everything they want.