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Islamic preacher in Graz arrested for recruiting men for Syria

Groups recruiting Muslims in Austria to fight in Syria have been dealt a blow after police arrested an Islamic preacher in Graz who is thought to be involved in efforts to send Austrians to the war in the Middle East.

State prosecutor Hansjoerg Bacher said that the 41-year-old man is thought to be behind the radicalising and recruiting of eight men, four of whom then died in fighting in Syria, who are believed to be young Chechens living in Austria.

Austrian magazine Profil reported that the men were recruited to join the al-Qaida-linked insurgency al-Nusra Front.

Around eighty Austrian residents have gone to fight in Syria, 10 of which have died there according to police.

Two teenage girls from Bosnian families have not been seen since they ran away from their homes in Vienna in April, leaving a note for their parents that said they had gone to fight "the holy war" in Syria.

Police fear that the 15-year-old Sabina and 16-year-old Samra are being held in Turkey by advocates of Jihad, who they believe are manipulating the social media accounts of two teenage girls from Austria to make it seem as if they were fighting in in Syria.

It is understood the teens became radicalised after attending a local mosque and hearing preachers speak about about the duty of every Muslim to take part in the holy war.

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