A German court on Monday sentenced three Syrians to years-long jail terms for belonging to ISIS and forming sleeper cell in Germany to carry out terrorist operations.
The oldest of the accused, identified as 27-year-old Mohamed A., was given the longest sentence of six-and-a-half years by Hamburg’s higher regional court, and his 19- and 20-year-old co-accused, minors at the time of the acts, received prison terms of three and a half years each.
The verdicts were issued after the court found that the three Syrians had infiltrated into Germany in November 2015 with the waves of refugees, following ISIS orders to form a terrorist cell.
ISIS instructed them to form a sleeper cell and await further orders.
To reach Germany, the men traveled via Turkey and Greece -- using the same route as hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing war-torn Syria at the time.
The accused were given fake passports, cash and mobile phones from ISIS, according to the court, and used the same smuggling network as the assailants who had carried out the ISIS-claimed attacks in Paris in 2015 that left 130 people dead.
There were "many parallels" between the German sleeper cell and the Paris cell, the presiding judge said.
While reading the verdicts, the judge stressed the importance of international cooperation against terrorism.
The court also received protocols of telephone conversations between the three defendants from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
"Only through this cooperation was the cell activity highlighted," the judge said.
It is assumed that the Americans handed over to the German side pictures of the three defendants, and that the German authorities identified them as asylum seekers in Germany through the electronic search system for terrorists.
The trial of the three Syrians began on June 13, 2017. The three remained silent until a hearing on February 16 when the oldest surprised the court when he confessed in order to receive a mild sentence.