Drug dealers on the streets of Berlin and radical Islamic Salafists may seem strange bedfellows but police are discovering a growing number of Islamists linked to the drug scene.
Drug dealing and radical Islam have come together before in the form of Berlin terror attacker and failed asylum seeker Anis Amri who killed 12 and injured over 50 other in December.
Amri, who frequented Salafist mosques in Berlin, was known to police as a low-level drug dealer before the attack but the connection between drugs and radical Islam could be much deeper Taggespiegel reports.
Last week police arrested nine drug dealing asylum seekers who came originally from Iraq and Syria and four of them turned out to be Islamists with links to the Islamic State.
Berlin Senator Andreas Geisel said it was important that the police were cracking down on drug dealing Islamists in the wake of revelations that showed police had the opportunity to deport Amri due to his drug activities before the terror attack took place.
Reports have also come to light showing that Arab gangs have been using asylum homes in Berlin to recruit low-level drug dealers. Benjamin Jendro of the Berlin Police Union said, “For the [Arab] clans, there is no risk,” since the migrants have no prior criminal history, many are underage and are often not informed about the structure of the criminal organisations.
Along with the Arab clans, various Salafist preachers and organisations have also been recruiting migrants in asylum homes across Germany. Last year the German Interior Ministry said there had been at least 20 to 60 attempts by Salafists to convert young asylum seekers to their beliefs per month.
Christian Democratic Union (CDU) MP Armin Schuster called for the government to ban Salafists from entering asylum homes and talking to asylum seekers, and while many Salafist organisations have been banned after having ties to Anis Amri, there has been no official ban on their activities in asylum homes.
Hans-Georg Maassen, head of the domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Agency for the Protection fo the Constitution (BfV), has said that the number of Islamists in Germany has been steadily growing over time. He said earlier this week that the number of known Salafists had grown from 8,650 last year to over 10,000 today and was still growing.