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Two Japanese may be prosecuted for attempting to join Islamic State

Two Japanese may be prosecuted for attempting to join Islamic State

Fighters of Syrian Democratic Forces walk past the ruins of destroyed buildings near the National Hospital after Raqqa was liberated from the Islamic State militants on Oct 17, 2017. (Photo: Reuters/Erik De Castro)

TOKYO: Two Japanese may be prosecuted for allegedly attempting to join the Islamic State group, police said Wednesday (Jul 3), the first case of its kind in the country.

"Tokyo police referred two people to prosecutors for planning to travel to Syria as an anti-government group fighter," a police spokesman told AFP.

The spokesman added three other people were also referred to prosecutors but gave no further details.

One of the five, according to local media, is a 31-year-old former student from Hokkaido University who planned to travel to Syria in 2014. 

He told police he wanted to join Islamic State to work as a fighter.

The other four include veteran freelance journalist Kosuke Tsuneoka and Islamic law scholar Ko Nakata, who the student apparently consulted about travelling to Syria.

Tsuneoka told reporters that "no one had any intention of joining the Islamic State". 

"There was no act that amounts to preparing or plotting for private war," said the 50-year-old, as reported by Kyodo News. 

According to Kyodo citing sources, the former university student had responded to a recruitment poster for work in Syria that was put up at a bookstore in Tokyo.

He was later introduced to Nakata, converted to Islam and began studying Arabic. 

Police raided his home the day before he was scheduled to leave, reported Kyodo.

Early this year. the Japanese government ordered Tsuneoka to surrender his passport as he prepared to leave for Yemen.

The move came amid debate in Japan about whether journalists should be prevented from going to war zones after the capture and release of a Japanese reporter in Syria last year.

Source: AFP/ad

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