A counter-terror operation in Germany swooped on suspects smuggling military clothing and funds to militant groups in Syria a month early after one ISIS sympathising member became suspicious that he was being monitored by police.
The men, who are Salafist muslims and supported a diverse range of opposition groups including the Islamic State and the Islamic Front were arrested over the weekend in an operation that involved raids at fifteen addresses in Baden-Württemberg, Hamburg, Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein, and North Rhine-Westphalia, reports theLocal.de.
One of those arrested, a man identified as ‘Kassam R’ is accused of sending military surplus clothing and equipment to Ahrar al-Sham, an opposition group within the Islamic Front which fights both the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad as well as the Islamic State, ISIS. The clothing, worth some €130,000 will be essential to rebel troops fighting in the barren Syrian hinterland during the coming winter campaign, and included 7,500 pairs of winter boots, 6,000 fleece-lined military parkas, and 100 military shirts.
Another group arrested which included smuggler ‘Kamel Ben Yahia S’ are accused of people smuggling, having helped send a 17-year old man to Syria to fight for ISIS, and for sending €5,000 worth of cash and clothing to the Islamic State.
A large volume of German military surplus has been finding its way to Syria and Iraq in recent months. The German government began a programme of military assistance to Kurdish resistance fighters last month, aiding their fight against ISIS by donating €70 million worth of equipment. The kit, which is largely last-generation German army surplus is nevertheless well beyond the quality of most weapons in use in Syria at present, much of which dates from the start of the Cold War.
The equipment, which is being delivered in three tranches includes 16,000 assault rifles, 2,500 Panzerfaust-3 advanced anti-tank rockets, numerous armoured vehicles and over eight million rounds of ammunition. At six hundred tonnes of stores, it could fully equip a full 4,000 soldier infantry brigade.
Tensions over the conflict with ISIS have reached boiling point in Germany over the past couple of weeks, as large groups of Kurds and Salafist Muslims settled in the country have come to blows over the conduct of the war. Two weeks ago, 1,300 police were deployed to the streets of Hamburg after the third night of rioting, as hundreds of Iraqis took to the streets with kebab skewers, catering knives, and even guns as the conflict spilled over into the streets of Europe.
Joachim Lenders, chairman of the local police officers union said the violence was like a “civil war”.