Prague, Czech Republic – Former Prague Imam Samer Shedadeh has been sentenced to ten years in prison by Prague’s municipal court for supporting, promoting and financing terrorism.
Former Imam of Prague jailed for promoting terrorism
The former head of the Czech capital’s Muslim community was found guilty of helping his brother Omar and sister-in-law to travel to Syria four years ago to join the Al-Nusra Front, one of the main terrorist organizations active in the Syrian war.
Shehadeh was accused of facilitating his brother’s trip to Syria in November 2016, providing him, according to Czech prosecutors, travel details, money and contact to join the civil war raging in the Middle Eastern country.
The former Imam of Prague later married his brother with Fatima Hudkova over the internet, and helped the latter join her new husband on the Syrian front.
Samer Shedadeh had previously confessed to the charges, but said he didn’t see them as illegal or unlawful due to the fact he didn’t consider Al-Nusra a terrorist organization nor recognize the legitimacy of Czech courts since they didn’t follow the Islamic Sharia law.
“Nothing to be ashamed of”, according to Shehadeh
“I’m proud of it. I have nothing to be ashamed of”, the 36-year-old Czech-born Islamic cleric told a court in early January, further arguing that he only did his duty in helping other Muslims and that the government in place in Damascus isn’t the lawful representative of the Syrian nation.
Under surveillance by Czech intelligence services since 2016 over suspicions he was attempting to radicalize the Czech Republic’s Muslim community, Shehadeh fled the Czech Republic in 2017 before being arrested in Jordan and handed over to his native country by local law enforcement authorities.
An estimated 20,000 Muslims live in the Czech Republic, one of the smallest communities in Europe, and only a minority of them are considered regular worshipers.