Court convicts Italian woman who joined Islamic State

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MILAN (AP) — In the first trial in Italy involving foreign fighters operating inside the war zone, a court on Monday convicted an Italian woman and her Albanian husband in absentia on terrorism charges for traveling to Syria to join the Islamic State group.

The court sentenced Maria Giulia Sergio to nine years in prison and her husband, Aldo Kobuzi, to 10 years; both are believed to be in Syria.

Sergio had encouraged her parents and sister to join her, the first known case of an entire Italian family planning to join IS.

Sergio's father, who was arrested in mid-2015, six months after his daughter traveled to the Middle East, was convicted in the same trial of a lesser charge of charge of organizing the journey of jihadists and sentenced to four years in jail. Sergio's mother died while in custody pending trial, while her sister was tried separately under expedited procedures and received a five-year sentence for association with a goal of international terrorism.

The court on Monday also convicted in absentia Kobuzi's mother and sister, who are also believed to be in Syria, and sentenced them to eight years in prison. The presumed recruiter, a Canadian identified as Haik Bushra and believed to be in Saudi Arabia, was sentenced to nine years.

Prosecutors claim that the entire Sergio family had embraced Islam, with the women all wearing the traditional niqab head cover and the father adopting a beard typical of observant Muslims.

Sergio, 29, and Kobuzi, 25, traveled to Syria shortly after their September 2014 arranged marriage, along with the groom's mother. Sergio, who had converted to Islam some years earlier and was previously engaged to a Moroccan, was determined that her parents and elder sister would join her, prosecutors claimed based on wiretapped conversations.

Her father went so far as to quit his job, collecting a 25,000-euro ($26,000) severance payment, and put property up for sale to finance the trip, prosecutors claimed in court documents which also said her elder sister was planning to marry a fighter on her arrival in Syria.

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