Until now, German public perception of the Salafists placed the phenomenon firmly on foreign soil. Recent events involving followers of this radical school of Islamic thought such as the distribution of copies of the Koran in German cities and violent clashes with police have raised some concerns, but how dangerous are the Salafists in reality? Answers from Albrecht Metzger
Until recently, German public perception of the Salafist movement was of a phenomenon primarily taking place abroad. The fundamentalists with the long beards and cropped trousers captured some 20 per cent of the Egyptian vote. Now they aim to impose Sharia law on the nation and induce society to live by the example of the Prophet and his disciples.
They also made negative press in Tunisia, with verbal attacks on Jews and anyone challenging their rigid world view. But in Germany? For sure, police and intelligence agencies have long had the German Salafists on their radar, and they warn of the potential dangers posed by this ideology. Members of what was known as the “Sauerland cell”, who planned attacks on US installations in 2007 and were sentenced to serve long jail terms, came from this milieu.
5 November 2010
German police arrested a man on Friday over videos published on the Internet threatening bomb attacks unless an Islamist jailed earlier this year is released, authorities said.
Last month, three videos appeared on the Internet calling for Daniel Schneider to be released or sent to Afghanistan by the end of November. If not, the videos warned of bomb attacks in Germany.
A German convert to Islam, Schneider was one of four members of the so-called Sauerland cell jailed in March for a thwarted plot to attack US soldiers and civilians in Germany.
Germany will launch one of its biggest terror trials in decades on Wednesday against four alleged Islamic extremists accused of plotting devastating attacks against US interests. The so-called Sauerland cell was named for a region east where authorities captured the suspects in September 2007 along with 26 detonators and 12 drums of hydrogen peroxide, the substance used in the deadly attacks on London’s transport system two years before. A fourth suspect was extradited from Turkey to Germany in November. Their aim, authorities say, was a deadly bombing “of unimaginable size”, according to chief federal prosecutor Monika Harms, that would also punish Germany for its military presence in Afghanistan. Prosecutors say the four are hardened members of the Islamic Jihad Union, a militant Islamic extremist group with roots in Uzbekistan and ties to al-Qaeda which is believed to have set up training camps for militants along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The suspects are accused of planning to car bomb targets including US institutions in Germany and nightclubs popular with Americans.