The trial of three alleged members of the left-wing Turkish terrorist group DHKP-C began in Dusseldorf on Thursday. The three face charges of financing a terrorist organization and recruiting and training new members.
The trial began in Dusseldorf amid tight security
Three Turkish nationals went on trial in Germany on Thursday, accused of raising money to help finance a series of terrorist attacks in Turkey.
Prosecutors claim all three suspects, two men and one woman, have recruited members for the Revolutionary People's Liberation Front (DHKP-C), a radical Marxist-Leninist group that has mounted bomb attacks in pursuit of its goal of overthrowing Turkey's government.
The woman, 34-year-old Nurhan E., was allegedly the head of the European wing of the DHKP-C and raised a total of 840,000 euros ($1.1 million) for the organization. Ahmet I., 40, is accused of leading the group's Cologne cell, and Cengiz O., 36, of heading the regional Westfalia cell.
Police arrested the three suspects after searching their residences in November 2008. A verdict is expected on August 31, and they could face up to 15 years in prison.
The group could negatively influence the largely peaceful Turkish minority in Germany
The DHKP-C was originally founded in the 1970s as Devrimci Sol and renamed in 1994.
The group has practiced suicide bombings since 2001, and has been blamed for numerous attacks in Turkey and in Germany, including bombings at Turkish banks in Duisburg and Cologne in 1995. Ankara, the United States and the European Union classify it as a terrorist organization.
The DHKP-C was banned in Germany in 1998, but German officials estimate some 650 members still exist in the country.
Germany as training ground
While the principle struggle of the DHKP-C is in Turkey, members have used German soil for "training, indoctrination, collecting money and logistical support," Rolf Tophoven, head of the Institute for Terrorism Research and Security Policy in Essen told Deutsche Welle.
Tophoven cautioned against comparing the DHKP-C with the four members of the so-called "Sauerland" group, who received sentences earlier this month of five to 12 years for a failed plot to attack United States targets in Germany.
The left-wing DHKP-C cannot be compared to the Sauerland group, experts say
"I would say (the DHKP-C) are not operating directly against German targets inside Germany," he said. "The biggest threat, as far as the intelligence community knows, comes from the radical militant Islamic cadres like the so-called Jihad Union or Al-Qaeda."
But while Germany is not the direct target of the DHKP-C, Tophoven said the group's presence in Germany could have a negative influence on the huge - and largely peaceful - German-Turkish community.
"The problem is that if you have young Turkish Muslim people which are unemployed and have no further perspective for the future, maybe they can be recruited by these groups," he said.
Author: Andrew Bowen
Editor: Rob Turner