Raids targeting Islamist preachers accused of backing Islamic State and recruiting fighters for the terrorist group were carried out in German cities yesterday.
Die Welt reports the raids targeted three active Salafist preachers who are said to give religious instruction and private tuition in mosques and private homes. Investigators disclosed that a number of radicalised Islamists are said to have been influenced by the men’s teachings.
Over 150 police were involved in the coordinated searches, which took place in cities across Western Germany. The three suspects detained following the operation are suspected of giving both financial and logistical support to Islamic State, and enlisting fighters for the militant outfit.
One of the preachers arrested, Hasan C., reportedly gave private tuition in Quranic doctrine and the Arabic language in the premises of the Turkish travel agency he owns. Among those who visited were two Islamic State-backing youths who bombed a Sikh temple in April.
Also among those arrested was Iraqi-born preacher Ahmad Abdulaziz A., whose Hildesheim mosque is said to be a jihadi hotspot. More than 26 people from the community are known to have gone to fight with Islamic State in Syria, and the mosque is notorious for preaching hatred against non-Muslims.
In Dortmund, police arrested an Islamic convert who they described as a “highly conspirative person”. Boban S. is thought to have distributed videos and publications linked to Islamic State through a smartphone app. The native Serb also gives private religious lessons.
Ralf Jäger, interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, said: “The goal was to go after Islamist supporters who agitate, recruit and radicalise. Whoever thinks they can agitate here unchallenged and recruit young men for armed struggle in Syria … is mistaken.”
German Federal and Criminal Police (BKA) documents last month revealed that there are 45,120 Islamists living in Germany. Of these, 1,100 have been identified by police as members of the country’s “terrorist scene” and another 499 classified as “troublemakers”.