Nils D. admitted to going to Syria and joining the "Islamic State" (IS) on Wednesday, the first day of the trial in Düsseldorf. Speaking to the court, Nils D. said he met friends from his home town Dinslaken in Syria. He also identified one of his friends in a picture, standing arm in arm with one of the terrorists in the Paris attacks.
As a member of the "Storm troops," Nils D. caught deserters and spies and used violence to take them to the 'IS' prisons. He also admitted to witnessing torture that the special cell used on victims. He however denied participating in any such activities. He said he wanted to be part of the "struggle for Muslims in the whole world."
However, Düsseldorf prosecutor Carola Bitter said the accused must have known what the militants were up to, "He could look inside the torture chambers. He buried a prisoner who was possibly tortured to death by carrying his dead body from the cooling chamber to the rubbish dump and then burying it in a hole," she said.
A possible ten-year sentence
Nils D. had been an offender in the past, spending six months in prison for robbery and stealing. He was also detained in a juvenile reform school for drug dealing.
"I was a pothead," Nils D. said, adding that he became a father when he was only 15 years old. After school, he joined a training program for mechanics, but dropped out soon after to "hang out" with friends in internet cafes.
His life changed after a cousin of his introduced him to Islam, he told the court. He began reading the Koran and listening to the speeches of German Salafist Pierre Vogel on the internet, before finally becoming a Muslim in August 2011, the Islamist said.
His cousin also introduced him to Salafists in Dinslaken after which he joined the "Lohberger Brigade" and decided to travel to Syria in August 2013. Nils D. said he did not know at the time that his friends had gone to Syria and joined the 'Islamic State.' He had only heard about a big organization and did not know about the terror group's atrocities.
The German citizen also said he wanted to join the Sharia brigade and not be part of the war, although he was shown how to use a Kalashnikov when he arrived in Syria.
Nils D. could face up to ten years in prison for being a member of the terror group. The court has initially set nine days for the trial.
mg/bw (AFP, dpa)