Belgian Islamist sentenced to 12 years for terrorism in Syria
A Belgian court sentenced Fouad Belkacem, 32, was sentenced to 12 years in prison Wednesday. (AFP/File)
A Belgian court sentenced the leader of an Islamist group to 12 years in prison on terrorism charges Wednesday, according to the AFP, as well as imprisoning other members. AFP reported it became "one of the largest cases of its kind in Europe."
The leader, 32-year-old Fouad Belkacem, was convicted for recruiting and sending young jihadist fighters to Syria.
The other 46 Sharia4Belgium group members faced charges, AFP reported, but only eight were present. A 19-year-old Muslim convert who returned from Syria and became a key prosecution witness in the case, AFP reported, received a 40-month suspended sentence.
"Belkacem is responsible for the radicalization of young men to prepare them for Salafist combat, which has at its core no place for democratic values," the judge said in AFP's report. "Sharia4Belgium recruited these young men for armed combat and organised their departure for Syria."
According to the AFP, Belgium has the highest rate of jihadist fighters relative to its population.
One of the group's members was deemed medically unfit to stand trial.