Prague ex-imam gets 10 years for supporting terrorism

Czech police began investigating Samer Shehadeh in 2016 over alleged attempts to radicalize people. (Screengrab)
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Updated 28 February 2020

Prague ex-imam gets 10 years for supporting terrorism

  • Shehadeh was arrested in Jordan before being flown back to the Czech Republic and taken into custody in November 2018
  • He maintains he is innocent of supporting terrorism because he regards the Syrian government as illegitimate and does not see Al-Nusra as a terror group

PRAGUE: The former imam of Prague was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Friday for helping his brother and sister-in-law join a terror group and for financing terrorism, a court spokeswoman said.
The court in the Czech capital found Samer Shehadeh, a 36-year-old of Palestinian origin, guilty of helping them join the Al-Nusra front, Al-Qaeda’s sister organization in Syria.
“Samer Shehadeh was sentenced to ten years,” Prague Municipal Court spokeswoman Marketa Puci told AFP, adding he appealed the verdict.
His brother Omar was sentenced to 11 years and his Czech sister-in-law to six years, Puci added. Both are at large.
Czech police began investigating Shehadeh in 2016 over alleged attempts to radicalize people as he had asked Czech Muslims not to join a Christian mass against terror in Prague in August of that year.
Samer was also found to have repeatedly sent money to Al-Nusra through intermediaries.
Czech prosecutors filed terrorism-related charges against him and his brother and sister-in-law in early 2018.
According to Czech media reports, Shehadeh was arrested in Jordan before being flown back to the Czech Republic and taken into custody in November 2018.
Shehadeh was also quoted as saying he was “proud” of having helped his relatives.
He maintains he is innocent of supporting terrorism because he regards the Syrian government as illegitimate and does not see Al-Nusra as a terror group.


Seoul endorses aid to North Korea for coronavirus

A nurse takes the temperature of a woman at an entrance of a Pyongyang hospital. (AFP)
Updated 04 April 2020

Seoul endorses aid to North Korea for coronavirus

  • According to the Unification Ministry, South Korea is committed to spending about $5.7 million on aid to North Korea this year

SEOUL: South Korea has approved assistance to provide anti-viral supplies to its northern neighbor for combating COVID-19, although the regime claims that there is no single confirmed case of the virus overwhelming societies around the globe.
The approval was granted on Tuesday to a nonprofit organization, which will send hand sanitizers worth about $81,000 to the North, the Unification Ministry on North Korean affairs confirmed on Thursday.
“The civic organization met the requirements for North Korean aid,” a ministry spokesman told reporters, declining to share details on the identity of the private organization. “The supplies were funded by the group.”
This marked the first time this year that the South Korean government has allowed a civilian aid group to provide assistance to the poverty-stricken North, while inter-Korean relations reached a low-ebb with the prolonged stalemate over Pyongyang’s nuclear disarmament effort.
International non-governmental organizations, including Doctors Without Borders, reportedly donated medical equipment to the communist regime, using a checkpoint in the border city of Dandong in China.
In March, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that $840,000 was needed to help North Korea during the coronavirus pandemic. UNICEF said that it donated glasses, masks, gloves and thermometers that could be used in North Korea to fight the spread of the virus.
The latest approval of the disinfectant shipment could set the stage for expanding assistance to the North at government level, said Cho Han-bum, a senior researcher at the state-funded Korea Institute for National Unification.
“I see the possibility that the level of assistance to the North would be expanded further,” the researcher said. “As Pyongyang appears to do its utmost to combat the spread of COVID-19, both Koreas would possibly be able to work together on health issues.”

HIGHLIGHT

The approval was granted to a nonprofit organization, which will send hand sanitizers worth about $81,000 to the North.

According to the Unification Ministry, South Korea is committed to spending about $5.7 million on aid to North Korea this year. The funds represent more than 60 percent of total global funding for aid to North Korea this year, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) website.
On March 1, President Moon Jae-in proposed cross-border cooperation in medicine and public health during his address marking the country’s Independence Day from Japanese colonial rule. In return, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un responded on March 4 by stating that he “wholeheartedly wished that the health of our brothers and sisters in the South are protected.”
But the North has conducted tests of short-range rockets and missiles three times since then, pouring cold water on relations with the South.
Experts have warned North Korea is vulnerable to the pandemic due to its weak health care system amid speculation that Pyongyang has covered up an outbreak.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s coronavirus cases topped 10,000 on Friday amid a slowdown in new infections. The country reported 86 new cases on Thursday, bringing the total number of infections to 10,062 and marked the 22nd consecutive day that new infections have hovered around 100 or fewer additional cases, according to health authorities.
The death toll rose by five to 174, with more than half of fatalities being patients aged 80 or over.