France IS trial: Seven jailed for training in Syria

Seven men have have received prison sentences in France for recruiting and training with fighters of so-called Islamic State (IS) in Syria.

The men, aged 24 to 27, were given jail terms ranging from six to nine years.

Among them is Karim Mohamed-Aggad, the brother of one of the militants involved in the attacks in Paris that killed 130 people last November.

Meanwhile, Belgium has extradited to France two suspects of involvement in those attacks, a prosecutor said.

Mohamed Amri and Ali Oulkadi are accused of having helped fellow suspect Salah Abdeslam.

According to BBC, prosecutors said Mohamed Amri was with Hamza Attou in the car that picked up Salah Abdeslam on 13 November, helping him escape to Belgium.

Hamza Attou was extradited to France last week to face preliminary charges of helping a terrorist criminal linked to an act of terrorism.

And Ali Oulkadi is said to have driven Salah Abdeslam from Laeken to Schaerbeek the day after the attacks.

The seven men sentenced on Wednesday were from Strasbourg and had gone to Syria between 2013 and 2014.

Prosecutor Nicolas Le Bris said during the trial each of the involved was determined to join a jihadi group and once in Syria “fitted in perfectly”.

He cited evidence gathered from wiretaps and from “jihad” documents found in their computers and mobile phones.

However, some of the defendants, including Karim, said they believed they were going to Syria on a humanitarian mission.

Others said they left to fight Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces but not to become Islamist militants.

IS controls swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq, and thousands of foreign fighters have joined the group, whose stronghold is in the Syrian city of Raqqa.

Karim’s brother Foued was one of the men who attacked the Bataclan rock concert hall.

He sought to distance himself from his brother, saying during the trial: “You choose your friends, not your family.”

He was accused of being the ringleader of the group and was given the harshest sentence.

His lawyer, Me Françoise Cotta, said he would appeal, Le Figaro reported.

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