German police on Tuesday arrested five men suspected of links to the Islamic State organization, who allegedly sought to recruit fighters for the jihadist group.
“The five accused formed a pan-regional Salafist-jihadist network, with the accused Ahmad Abdulaziz Abdullah A. taking on the leading role,” said a statement from the prosecutors’ office, referring to the 32-year-old Iraqi.
“The aim of the network led by him is to send people to IS in Syria,” it added.
Turkish national Hasan C. and German-Serb Boban S. were allegedly tasked with teaching the recruits Arabic as well as indoctrinating them with Islamist content.
While the group’s leader had the authority to approve and organise any departures to Syria, he allegedly left the actual implementation of the plans to the two other men detained Tuesday, German national Mahmoud O. and Cameroonian Ahmed F. Y.
At least one young man and his family has been sent by the network to join IS in Syria, prosecutors added.
The five men were arrested in the northern state of Lower Saxony and the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, German media reported.
According to figures released in May by German intelligence services, 820 jihadists have left Germany for Syria and Iraq.
Almost a third have returned and 140 were killed while abroad, while around 420 are still in Syria or Iraq.
Germany has so far been spared large-scale jihadist attacks.
But it was shaken by two assaults claimed by IS and carried out by asylum seekers — an axe rampage on a train in Wuerzburg that injured five, and a suicide bombing in Ansbach in which 15 people were hurt.