Moroccan jailed in Portugal for ISIS recruitment

The court found Abdesselam Tazi was not a member of ISIS

Islamic state members walk in the last besieged neighborhood in the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria February 18, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said
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A 65-year-old Moroccan citizen was sentenced to 12 years in prison on Tuesday after being convicted by a Portuguese court of recruiting young people to fight in Syria.

Abdesselam Tazi was also found guilty by the court in Lisbon of financing the recruitment using forged credit cards.

Portugal's public prosecutor said Tazi was an intelligent man who recruited the people, mostly from Morocco, to travel to Portugal and then join ISIS in Syria.

The court, which found him guilty of seven crimes, found no evidence that Tazi was a member of the extremist organisation.

"The sentencing caught me by surprise," Tazi's lawyer Lopes Guerreiro said. He said he planned to appeal against the court's decision.

"The individual was absolved of belonging to an international terrorist organisation but he was condemned for having recruited people for an organisation he is not part of," Mr Guerreiro said.

Trials of this kind are unusual in Portugal and the Justice Minister has said the number of Portuguese citizens who joined ISIS or similar groups is "not significant".

Portugal has never had an extremist attack on its territory.