BERLIN – Two German citizens suspected of distributing propaganda over the Internet supporting Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations were arrested Tuesday, German prosecutors said.
The men — identified only as Daniel P., 26 and Harun Can A., 23 — were among eight suspects whose homes were raided on Tuesday, federal prosecutors said in a statement.
A 19-year-old German citizen identified as Irfan P. was already in custody on separate charges before the morning raids in cities including Augsburg, Duesseldorf and Bremen, where investigators combed through the suspects' computer equipment.
Prosecutors said the three Germans are accused of belonging to the Global Islamic Media Front and of supporting a foreign terrorist organization.
"The suspects are, among other things, strongly suspected of being responsible for many German-language Internet sites," the statement said, "Through them (the suspects) supported and solicited members and supporters for Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda in Iraq and Ansar Al Islam."
According to prosecutors, the men posted propaganda videos and messages to the group's German-language site and created links to other sites hosted by Islamic terrorist groups.
Federal prosecutor's spokesman Frank Wallenta said two of the videos included a German speaker calling for Germany and Austria to pull their troops out of Afghanistan.
Daniel P. is accused of 18 counts of publishing propaganda to the sites between November 2006 and November 2007. Irfan P. faces 10 counts of the same charge and Harun Can A. faces four.
Wallenta said he could not estimate the maximum prison sentence that each suspect might face because a judge will need to decide which charges they will face and whether to hold them in investigative custody, which could reduce their sentence if convicted.
"It's much to early for that," Wallenta said.
He declined to provide the names of the suspects' lawyers.
In March, an Austrian man who acknowledged participating in the Global Islamic Media Front was convicted together with his wife of making terror threats on targets in Germany and Austria.
The man, identified only as Mohamed M., disputed that the group had ties to Al Qaeda. He was sentenced to four years in prison.
Irfan P. was already in investigative custody in Germany on multiple charges, including one that he translated into German statements made by Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the self-styled head of the Al Qaeda front group the Islamic State of Iraq.
The U.S. has described Al Baghdadi as a fictitious character used to give an Iraqi face to an organization dominated by foreign Al Qaeda fighters.
Daniel P. and Harun Can A. are scheduled to appear Wednesday in federal court, where a judge will decide whether to keep them in investigative custody. Irfan P. will face the same hearing Thursday.