Police raid against Salafi network

June 28

 

The German police has searched 15 apartment and one mosque in the States of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein. Salafist adherents and members of the banned association “Millatu Ibrahim” have been suspected to go hiding and shifting activities underground.

 

Furthermore, the police believes some of the Salafi activists planning “violent acts against the State”. On June 14th 2012, Minister of Interior Hans-Peter Friedrich (CSU) banned the Salafi  association Millatu Ibrahim. According to the annual report of the “Office for the Protection of the Constitution” 2012, more than 50 persons have travelled to Egypt. They are said to be Salafi adherents.

 

report (PDF)

Warning against Salafi action

October 8

 

The president of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution Hans-Georg Maaßen has warned the public against activists of the German Salafi movement. Since its legal banning, members of the organization Millatu Ibrahim allegedly left Germany and went to Arab countries in the Middle East and North Africa in order to mobilize and call Muslims for Jihad actions. Among other activities the Salafi are apparently attempting to build up a new German-speaking media center, based in foreign countries. The goal is to address young Muslims in Germany.

 

The former Rap musician and convert Denis Cuspert, also known as Deso Dogg, and the activist Mohamed Mahmud have left Germany and are wanted by German security forces.

The Response to the Salafist Movement in Germany: Heavy on Populism, Light on Strategic Thinking

Many intelligence officials in Germany are baffled by the political response to the Salafist movement. As far as they are concerned, there is too much populism, not enough strategic thinking, and ineffective communication to boot. Albrecht Metzger reports.

At 6 a.m. on 14 June, a hundred-strong police unit advanced on the Millatu Ibrahim Mosque in Solingen and cleared the house of worship. Just a few hours later, Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich announced a ban on the eponymous association, whose members had expressed open allegiance to al-Qaeda, and had its Internet site removed from the web.

Abu Usama al-Gharib, who until a few months ago was a preacher at the mosque and is now thought to be in Egypt, posted an immediate reaction on his blog: “Until you believe in Allah alone there will clearly only be ENMITY AND HATRED FOREVER between you and us. You can’t ban Millatu Ibrahim. Because we carry Millatu Ibrahim in our hearts. Victory or martyrdom.”

The Islamic extremists have since fallen silent. But for how long? “The confrontation with Salafism has only just begun,” says Guido Steinberg, a specialist in terrorism at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) in Berlin. “Millatu Ibrahim has openly issued propaganda for al-Qaeda. Dealing with the Salafists who advocate jihad but don’t express this publicly is much more difficult.”

Additional information on the Millatu Ibrahim group

June 15

 

Millatu Ibrahim defines itself as Takfiri, a radical interpret of Islam. Basic information retrieved from blog-pages describe the Millatu Ibrahim group call Muslims to witness Allah in front of the public with the “Shuhahda” and distance themselves from any other unbeliever “Kufr” in order to be on the “safe side” of Islam.

 

Denis Cuspert (36) alias Deso Dogg alias Abu Talha Al-Almani started is public activity as a “Gangster Rapper”. His songs are about violence and crime among youth in German cities. He was born and raised in Berlin by his German mother as his father, who was from Ghana left the family when Cuspert was a baby. Cuspert had a difficult childhood: he was often in conflict with his stepfather, a former American Army soldier and strict disciplinarian. He was sent to a home for difficult children and returned after five years. He experienced racism at school and begun to participate at demonstrations against the Persian Gulf War in 1991 and the Iraq war in 2003. Having joined Turkish and Arab youth gangs in Berlin, he committed crimes for which he was sentenced to prison.

 

Cuspert became a known figure in the socially problematic areas of Berlin. His “nasheeds” (Islamic vocal songs) praising Al Qaeda’s late leader, Osama bin Laden (“Your name flows in our blood”), or the Taliban leader Mullah Omar have made him a high ranked rapper in the Jihadi scene. In 2011, he was prosecuted for possessing illegal weapons and ordered to pay a fine.

 

Recently, Cuspert has left Berlin for Bonn, calling the city a “lost case”. Little is known about Cuspert’s real motivation to move. Commentators speculate that the reason is the increasing authorities’ pressure after the release of his hate, violence-praising “nasheeds” in May 2012.

 

Cuspert is believed to have inspired the self-radicalized Arid Uka, who shot two American airmen at the Frankfurt airport in March 2011. His “nasheeds” would “incite violence and unrest through inflammatory videos and fiery speeches that praise terrorists and attack the West”.

 

Mohamed Mahmoud (27), also known as Abu Usama al-Gharib, was born in Vienna, Austria. His father was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and asked for political asylum in Austria. Mahmoud joined an Al Qaeda training camp in Iraq in 2003 and founded the youth organization “Islamic youth in Austria”.

 

After moving to Berlin, he was sentenced to four years prison for hate speech and activities in terrorist and criminal organizations. Already during his time in prison, Mahmoud was in contact with Cuspert. They became closer after that Mahmoud was released in September 2011. In the same period, Mahmoud moved from Berlin to Solingen and became the dominant Imam of the local “Millatu Ibrahim mosque”.  Mahmoud and Cuspert have been regarded as “online pioneers” of the German Jihadi scene, providing Islamists with an entertaining and heterogeneous platform to interact on.

Strike against Salafi association in Solingen

June 14

 

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.