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Of 3 suspected ISIS members charged in Germany, 1 accused of killing US troops

By MARCUS KLOECKNER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 19, 2019

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — German federal prosecutors have filed charges against three suspected Islamic State group members, including one man accused of killing U.S. soldiers in Iraq years ago.

The first suspect, identified as Mohammad Rafea Yassen Y., 28, is accused of carrying out 13 attacks on Americans with explosives between 2006 and 2008, and of more recent crimes as a member of the Islamic State group, including public executions. Officials did not release his or the other suspects’ last names for privacy reasons.

“In two cases, he secured executions at the village square at which members of the terror organization killed children, women and men,” German prosecutors said of the 28-year-old’s involvement in ISIS, adding that it began in 2014.

Before he joined ISIS, the suspect was already involved in the resistance. His first attacks were carried out near his hometown of Rutba in Iraq’s Anbar province, German authorities claimed on Monday. That province ranks among the deadliest for U.S. and allied forces in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion of the country in March 2003.

Among those killed in the attacks were “members of the U.S. Army, the local police and civilian bystanders,” the federal prosecutor’s office said. The Iraqi suspect is believed to have assembled the explosive devices with the help of other militants.

It’s not clear how many American deaths the man is purported to have caused — some 475 troops were killed in hostilities in Anbar province between 2006 and 2008, to include nearly 200 reportedly killed in incidents involving improvised explosive device blasts, according to an analysis of casualty data on the website icasualties.org, which tracks coalition deaths.

For example, Sgt. Michael D. Rowe, a 23-year-old soldier form New Port Richey, Fla., was killed in an IED attack near Rutba on March 28, 2006, the data shows. Two Marines were also killed in hostilities near the town — Lance Cpl. Shane P. Harris, 23, killed by enemy fire on Sept. 3, 2006 and Capt. Kevin Kryst, 27, killed in a mortar attack on Dec. 18, 2006.

Yassen Y. is accused more recently of being an accomplice in other killings and war crimes after joining ISIS about five years ago, though scarce details were provided. He acted as a guard and used his Kalashnikov assault rifle to carry out executions, authorities said.

The federal prosecutor’s office also pressed charges against two other Iraqis accused of being ISIS members: Muqatil Ahmed Osman A., 29, and Hasan Sabbar Khazaal K., 27. Osman A. attended military training and then participated in ISIS battles. Khazaal K. is believed to have produced and distributed propaganda material for ISIS.

“He filmed executions, punishments and missions of the terror organization,” and forced members of the local community in Rutba to watch the videos, prosecutors said.

In 2015, the three left Iraq for Germany. They were arrested in June 2018 and have been in jail since that time.

Germany’s federal prosecutor’s office has for years pressed charges against suspected Islamic radicals accused of committing acts of terror in other countries. The first sentence in a case where a foreign combatant was tried for having a role in attacks on U.S. forces abroad came in February 2018, when a German court sentenced an Afghan refugee to four years and 10 months in jail for carrying out attacks years earlier in Afghanistan.

kloeckner.marcus@stripes.com

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