November 30, 2014 / 4:43 PM / 3 years ago

Germany says 300 jihadists facing trial, anti-terrorism laws working

BERLIN (Reuters) - Nearly 300 people are facing prosecution in Germany for supporting Islamic State (IS), German Justice Minister Heiko Maas has said, adding that it was a sign that anti-terrorism laws were working and tougher legislation was not needed.

German Justice Minister Heiko Maas attends a cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, October 1, 2014. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

“Whoever supports IS can already be prosecuted under existing laws,” he told Sunday’s weekly newspaper Welt am Sonntag in an interview, after some politicians called for tighter laws.

He added, however, that he would present a draft law by the end of the year to tackle the flow of money to IS.

On Friday, a state prosecutor demanded a prison term of more than four years for a 20-year-old German man accused of fighting with Islamic State insurgents in Syria. It is the first trial of its kind in Germany and dozens more are due to begin in coming months.

Islamic State has captured swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq, massacred many non-Sunni Muslims, beheaded some Western prisoners, and declared a caliphate ruled under sharia, or Islamic law, in the heart of the Middle East.

Thousands of Western volunteers have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join militant groups. Law enforcement authorities are cracking down on returning fighters, amid fears of attacks.

Security authorities say about 550 German citizens have joined Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and about 60 have been killed, some in suicide attacks. Around 180 are believed to have returned.

In September, Germany introduced a ban on Islamic State that outlawed propaganda, the display of symbols and activities linked to the group.

Some of those facing prosecution are accused of supporting IS by raising funds or helping supply equipment from Germany.

Reporting by Alexandra Hudson. Editing by Aidan Martindale

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