In its latest massive crackdown on the domestic radical Islamist threat, German police launched dawn raids in 60 different cities on about 190 mosques, flats and offices believed to have links to the Islamist missionary network ‘The True Religion,’ which is known to have been distributing free Korans at infostands throughout Germany.
De Maiziere said Tuesday's actions across 10 German states were the biggest crackdown on a group since the government shut down a movement known as Kalifatstaat (Caliphate State) in 2001, accusing it of "extremist activities". The government has also banned five other organization accused of having Islamist-Jihadist aspirations since 2012.
The raids were carried out in Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia, Bavaria, Bremen, Lower Saxony and Hamburg. The operation is also being carried out in the capital, Berlin, where some 50 apartments and offices have been searched. In total, police raided the network’s premises in 60 German cities, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maziere said at a press conference that followed the operation.
There have been no reports of arrests as of yet. The group is widely known for its ‘Lies!’ (read) initiative, which distributes free copies of the Koran while calling on Germans to “read the noble” book. This morning, apparently in response to the police operation, they wrote a post declaring that “Germany has banned the Koran.”
Germany’s Interior Ministry banned the organization on Tuesday morning. A spokeswoman for the ministry said that authorities believe the group has acted in violation of Germany’s constitution and incited hatred.The media states that the group advocates armed jihad and supports terrorist organizations, citing law enforcement authorities.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the DWR 'True Religion' organization had contacted young people as it distributed Korans and other religious material, and had persuaded about 140 of them to join militants in Iraq and Syria. DWR made no reference to the raids on its website and did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
"Today's ban is not directed against the distribution of the Koran or translations of the Koran," de Maiziere told reporters. "Today's ban is rather directed against the abuse of religion by people propagating extremist ideologies and supporting terrorist organizations under the pretext of Islam." The group had several hundred members, he added.
"The translations of the Quran are being distributed along with messages of hatred and unconstitutional ideologies," de Maiziere told reporters in Berlin. "Teenagers are being radicalized with conspiracy theories."
"We don't want terrorism in Germany ... and we don't want to export terrorism," de Maiziere said adding that the ban was also a measure to help protect peaceful Islam in the country.
Authorities believe over 500 people to be part of the group, which has some 60 local initiatives throughout the country. The investigators are reportedly after the group’s founder, Abou-Nagie, an Islamist hate preacher of Pakistani origin who lives in Cologne. His home in Cologne has been searched, as well as his girlfriend’s in Bonn.
The ‘Lies!’ activists have reportedly distributed around 3.5 million copies of the Koran in Germany so far. Authorities in some German cities have banned their actions, but activists have often ignored them, and distributed the books from backpacks and bags in response.
Numerous young Muslims have been radicalized during the Koran distribution campaigns, Interior Minister Thomas de Maziere told reporters. At least 140 ‘Lies!’ activists and supporters have already moved to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside the jihadists, he said. Some terror suspects in Essen, who participated in a bomb attack on a Sikh temple in April, were previously known as ‘Lies!’ activists, according to Die Welt.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has faced pressure to harden her line on security after a string of attacks claimed by Islamic State across Europe and criticism of her decision to let in about 900,000 migrants last year. Concern over the number of migrants entering the country has boosted support for Alternative for Germany, a populist party that says Islam is incompatible with the German constitution and has siphoned off support from Merkel's conservatives.
A spokeswoman for the interior ministry said there was no indication that DWR was planning attacks itself.
As RT reminds us, Germany has been on high terror alert in recent months. In July of this year, the country suffered three lone-wolf assaults. In all cases, the perpetrators had either direct links to the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terror group or were inspired by radicalism.
De Maiziere warned back in September that there were more people in Germany capable of committing terrorist acts than ever before. According to the minister’s data, more than 520 people are could potentially commit “unexpected” and “high-profile” terrorist attacks inspired by Islamism.
Anti-terror raids have been carried out across the country on several occasions, in which a number of suspected radicals have been detained. In October, German police conducted several raids in five federal states in response to an “imminent terror threat.”