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German court sentences teen over Christmas terror plot

June 28, 2024

A German court has handed a four-year custodial sentence to a defendant for planning a terror attack on a Christmas market.

The Christmas market in Opladen
The plan was to rent a truck and drive it through the Christmas market in OpladenImage: Roberto Pfeil/dpa/picture alliance

A regional court in the western German city of Cologne on Friday sentenced a 15-year-old to four years in youth custody for planning an attack on a Christmas market in the nearby city of Leverkusen.

The court found that the Islamist-motivated youth had planned to kill apparent non-believers with a truck.

What else did the court say?

It found that the youth had been increasingly radicalized since autumn last year.

According to the verdict, his plan was to rent a truck and drive it through the Christmas market in the Leverkusen district of Opladen. The defendant wanted to run over as many people as possible and thus kill them, the court said.

Two German teenagers were accused of plotting a terror attack on a Christmas market in the western German city of Leverkusen, German prosecutors said when the 15-year-old was arrested in North Rhine-Westphalia.

A 16-year-old boy was also arrested in the eastern state of Brandenburg.

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Officials said the 15-year-old boy posted in a chat group about a plan to attack a Christmas market in Leverkusen, a city near Cologne in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

"Specifically, the plans envisaged that the defendant would drive through the Christmas market in a rented truck in order to kill as many visitors as possible, whom he considered to be unbelievers," said a court spokesman. The alleged accomplice was supposed to film the act.

Links to 'Islamic State' group?

The 15-year-old had published a video announcing the attack on "unbelievers." In the background, an identifying symbol of the so-called "Islamic State" militant group (IS) could be seen.

Prosecutors alleged that two teenagers planned to leave Germany after the attack to join an offshoot of the IS group in Afghanistan.

An attack on Berlin's Breitscheidplatz Christmas market was the most serious act of Islamist terrorism in Germany to date. The attacker, Anis Amri, drove a truck into the market, killing 12 people. He was later shot dead by police while on the run in Italy.

rc/kb (AFP, dpa)