On Thursday morning, German authorities have searched more than 70 offices, apartments and facilities related to the Salafi scene. Searches went on in at least seven German Federal States, in particular in North Rhine Westphalia and Hessen. Hereby, the Minister of Internal Affairs Hans-Peter Friedrich (CSU) has issued a banning order for the Solingen-based Salafi association “Millatu Ibrahim”. Authorities had been monitoring the Salafi group since the May violent clashes in Bonn and Solingen. Among other measures, the police have shut down the group’s webpage. This, according to the Minister of Interior, means an immense logistic and organizational loss for the “Millatu”group. Allegedly, the group’s goals are: to call Muslims to fight against the constitutional order of Germany, to destroy the concept of understanding among peoples and to introduce Sharia by violent means.
The “Millatu Ibrahim” group belongs to the Jihadist arm of the Salafi movement in Germany. It has been extremely radical in its calls for violence and bloodshed. The group’s leading figure is the Austrian Mohamed Mahmoud also known as Abu Usama al-Gharib. In 2011, he was convicted for hate speech and Terrorist activities by a German court. Also, he had been a founding member of the Global Islamic Media front. After his release, he had moved to Berlin and afterwards to Solingen. He begun preaching at the Millatu-Ibrahim-Mosque but German authorities intervened to stop this activity. He then moved to the German State of Hessen and was finally deported from Germany. Abu Usama al-Gharib is now said to live in Egypt. His accomplice, and a popular figure in the Millatu group is the former rapper Denis Cuspert alias Deso Dogg, alias Abu Talha Al-Almani. Apparently, Cuspert has unsubscribed his Berlin apartment and is now wanted. The Ministry of Interior uses videos as evidence to prove how both leaders encouraged Salafi adherents to oppose police and right-wing supporters on May 1st and May 12th demonstrations by calling to bloodshed.
Authorities have initiated preliminary investigations also against the association “DawaFFM” in Frankfurt-am-Main and the Cologne-based association “The True Religion”. Given the lack of evidence against the groups, the Ministry has not yet issued banning orders. Earlier this spring the association “The True Religion” had initiated a campaign distributing copies of the Koran in German cities. The group interrupted the campaign after printing 300.000 copies, as the print shop had started attracting the public attention.
Other well-known activists have openly sympathized with the Jihadist arm of the Salafi movement and are therefore believed to be involved in its activities. Among them, there is the German Pierre Vogel, who converted to Islam eleven years ago. Another is the preacher and leading member of the association “The True Religion” Ibrahim Abou Nagie. Abou Nagie allegedly encourages young Muslims to stand against all Non-Muslims. He organizes Islamic seminars at schools and youth centers, and calls to execute the Islamic law Sharia on homosexual people.
Initially Nagie’s Koran distribution initiative sounded harmless. However, the German security forces became alert as soon as the radical leader Usama al-Gharib expressed his approval of the idea and offered to stand against possible attackers.
Security experts assume that the goal of Abou Nagie and Al-Gharib is to unify the Salafi scene and win more adherents in the form of converts. The Koran distributions and the demonstrations against the right-wing-initiated Muhammad cartoon campaigns are perceived as prestigious victories within the Salafi scene. All three associations are expected to be leading and coordinating Internet and street campaigns in Germany.
According to the Office for the Protection of the Constitution there are more than 4000 Salafists in Germany, divided in two groups: a so-called political “missionary” arm and a “Jihadist” arm. Totally, 24 Salafi members are classified as “dangerous”. Although the Office for the Protection of the Constitution had issued warnings about Salafi activities and propaganda in Germany, authorities seemed to be little prepared for the outbreak of violence in May 2012. Salafi adherents had protested against demonstrations organized by the right-wing party Pro NRW, which had initiated a Muhammad cartoon campaign. Almost thirty police officers were injured during the clashes.