Over 60 Germans among Islamists in Idlib | News | DW | 09.02.2020
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Over 60 Germans among Islamists in Idlib

An analysis of text and video messages from jihadis in Idlib reveals over 60 Germans among their ranks, German media report. Syrian President Bashar Assad is determined to retake the region.

More than 60 Germans are fighting in Idlib, the last stronghold of foreign fighters in northwest Syria, according to reports by the German broadcaster SWR on Sunday.

SWRreviewed transcripts of instant messages sent by the fighters and determined that the individuals are largely members of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a group with ties to al-Qaida. At least one person is working with the group Junud al-Sham.

Using messenger apps such as Telegram, the fighters solicited financial aid from supporters back in Germany by way of text, video and voice messages.

"My brothers," a masked man says in a video message, "if you could help, that would be very good. Even if you're in Germany, [by donating] it's as if you've completed jihad."

Supporters are instructed to send donations to an individual in Turkey via Western Union bank transfer or to use cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.

German security agencies are aware of the practice and report that they have been monitoring the use of cryptocurrency to finance terrorism for some time.

Idlib is the final holdout of rebels in Syria backed by Turkish support. Syrian ruler Bashar Assad, with help from Russia, has vowed to retake control of the region.

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