Leader of Belgian militant Islamist group sentenced to 12 years

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By Robert-Jan Bartunek ANTWERP, Belgium (Reuters) - A Belgian court jailed the head of Sharia4Belgium for 12 years on Wednesday, ruling that his Islamist group was a terrorist organization that brainwashed young men into joining militants in the Middle East. The authorities believe some 350 Belgian nationals have fought in Syria, the highest per capita level among western European countries. Unlike most other defendants in the trial, the group's leader Fouad Belkacem, 32, did not fight in Syria, but Judge Luc Potargent said he was the driving force in the organization.