Hundreds of German police carried out simultaneous terror raids today in 10 of the country’s 16 states hunting for Islamic State supporters and recruiters.
Armed police and elite SEK anti-terror units were involved in the swoop on more than 200 flats and offices belonging to a group calling itself “The True Religion”, which has publicly backed the aims of IS.
The operation was carried out at 6.30am (7.30am UK time) and at the same time the German government announced that the group was being banned for good.
The Salafist sect believes in a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam and caused controversy in Germany with a project called “Lies!” to hand out 25 million translations of the koran for free. Many of the 800 Germans who travelled to the so-called caliphate declared by IS in Syria and Iraq were Salafists.
One of the places stormed today was a flat in a high-rise building in Bonn where the sect’s leader Ibrahim Abou-Nagie, 52, lives. He was hauled out of bed and off for questioning along with hate preacher Said El Emrani 34, who goes by the name Abu Dujana.
Abou-Nagie has called for Sharia law to be introduced worldwide to replace traditional justice systems.
Fifteen searches were carried out at properties in Frankfurt and dozens of boxes of IS recruiting material and other jihadist literature seized.
In the states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Bavaria there were 35 raids while in Lower Saxony officials searched more than 20 properties. In Berlin almost 20 places were stormed, in Baden-Württemberg 15, and about five each in Schleswig-Holstein, Rhineland-Palatinate and Hamburg.
Search warrants were also issued against a mosque association in Baden-Württemberg and Hamburg.
The authorities said the group is “unconstitutional and against the idea of international understanding”, and its propaganda material and cash assets were being seized.
The government said the group’s membership “glorifies Holy War and terrorist attacks as well as building up a unique melting pot for recruitment of jihadists.”
At least 140 members of The True Religion have travelled to the Middle East to fight with IS.
The federal office for the protection of the constitution — the BvF or internal intelligence service — estimates the number of radical Islamist Salafis in Germany at 9,200 and rising.
Of these 1,200 are considered capable of terror acts. Twenty per cent of them are women.
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