BERLIN (AP) — Authorities in Germany have arrested one of the country's most prominent Islamic extremists on suspicion of supporting a foreign terror group, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Sven Lau was arrested Tuesday in the western city of Moenchengladbach, federal prosecutors said in a statement.
Lau is suspected of four counts of supporting the group Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar, or JAMWA, which was designated a terrorist organization by the United States last year. Prosecutors alleged that the 35-year-old was the go-to contact for extremists wanting to fight for JAMWA in Syria and provided financial and material support to the group under the cover of humanitarian aid shipments.
The top security official in North Rhine-Westphalia, where Lau was arrested, described him as "one of the leading figures in the Salafist scene" in that state.
Lau, a convert to Islam, made headlines last year when he attempted to establish a "Sharia police" in the city of Wuppertal to enforce a strict interpretation of Islam.
"With their propaganda glorifying violence and their alleged help for suffering people in war zones, Salafist preachers such as Lau provide a breeding ground for the radicalization of young men," said Ralf Jaeger, North Rhine-Westphalia's interior minister. "They are inciting young people to join jihadist terror groups in Syria and Iraq."
Lau's lawyer didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.