Police in the German capital of Berlin raided a radical Islamist-linked mosque after accusations that two Islamic extremists were fraudulently taking advantage of coronavirus benefits.
The raids took place at 7 am on Tuesday and saw police search the Ibrahim al-Khalil mosque in the Tempelhof district. Police also searched a shop and a private residence next to the mosque. They are all believed to be connected to the two men suspected of fraud.
“There is suspicion that the two suspects have made multiple applications for emergency coronavirus aid and some have received funds. These were made for small businesses and sole proprietorships that actually did not exist,” public prosecutor spokesman Martin Steltner told German newspaper Bild.
According to the newspaper, at least 250 law enforcement personnel were involved with the raids, including members of the State Criminal Police Office (LKA), who deal with organised crime, terrorism, and other serious offences.
The Ibrahim al-Khalil mosque is said to be one of the main gathering points for Salafist Islamist extremists in Berlin. A report from Germany’s domestic security agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), stated around 40 per cent of those who attend subscribe to radical ideologies.
German Islamists Raided over Coronavirus Aid Fraud Allegations https://t.co/VfKV7Qmjp4
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“Despite the efforts to present themselves moderately, at least to the outside world, the mosque’s board of directors continues to be Salafist,” the agency’s report said.
The case is the second time radical Islamic extremists have been accused of attempting to defraud funds meant to help businesses suffering from the economic impact of the Wuhan coronavirus.
In early May, Berlin investigators raided the homes of at least five Islamists who were suspected of trying to claim coronavirus benefits fraudulently. Between them all, the fraudsters had amassed around €94,000 (£82,100/$102,000) from the German government.
The suspects were also linked to the radical Fussilet mosque which had previously been attended by Berlin Christmas Market terrorist Anis Amri who murdered a dozen people in December 2017. One of the suspects, Walid S., was said to be a close confidant of Amri.