German police arrest several suspected ISIS supporters, raid properties in massive sweep

BERLIN (Reuters) - German police arrested several men suspected of supporting militant groups, including the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and raided numerous properties in a large operation against alleged radicals, federal prosecutors said on Wednesday.

Some 240 police officers took part in the sweep, which targeted a network believed to support Islamists in Syria.

A 58-year-old Pakistani man, Mirza Tamoor B., was arrested on suspicion that he smuggled two fighters from Germany to Syria, while a 31-year-old German, Kais B. O., was detained on suspicion of recruiting three other potential jihadists and helping them to travel to Syria, prosecutors said.

The two are also believed to have sent more than 3,000 euros (S$4,800) to support IS and other radical groups.

Local media reported that several other men were arrested on more minor charges, including robbing churches and schools to provide money for Islamists.

As with other western European countries, Germany is struggling to stop the radicalisation of young Muslims, some of whom want to become jihadists in Syria or Iraq. Officials also worry that they might return to plot attacks on home soil.

German intelligence authorities estimate at least 450 people have left Germany for Syria and around 150 have returned. Many are being criminally investigated.