I’ll confess that I didn’t see this one coming. In dozens of cities across Germany, people woke up to a blistering series of police raids shutting down a large Islamic group which is suspected of recruiting fighters for ISIS. The group “True Religion” has now been banned across the country. (Washington Post)
German police in 60 cities staged sweeping raids early Tuesday targeting the Islamist group True Religion on accusations of recruiting for the Islamic State, as authorities intensified a large scale crackdown against religious extremists.
The Germans have launched hundreds of raids in recent months as they grapple with a heightened threat of terror following a spate of attacks in Germany and neighboring countries as well as elevated fears of homegrown radicalization.
Police searched 190 mosques, apartments and offices connected to the Salafist, or ultraconservative, Muslim organization that is ubiquitous in Germany with its members setting up highly-visible welcome tables on busy streets. The group — also known by the name Read! — distributes translated copies of the Koran for free and attempts to spread the faith.
The Germans claim quite credibly that rather than simply handing out free copies of the Koran, True Religion had been recruiting, funding and helping to train terrorist fighters, with at least 140 of them going on to enter the battlefield against the west. While such a move would be deemed “controversial” in the United States, the Germans were able to charge them with inciting hate and spreading extremism. That sounds about right to me.
For their part, True Religion took to social media with precisely the same set of lies and propaganda we’ve come to expect.
The Facebook page and the website of the True Religion group were down on Tuesday. But via Twitter, it condemned the raids , saying: “Dear brothers and sisters, the Quran has been banned in Germany. We brought Allah’s message to everyone. Allah u Akbar.”
Later, they tweeted a link to what appeared to be the Facebook page of the group’s UK branch.
Nobody banned the Koran in Germany and they aren’t shutting down the mosques. They’re blocking a terrorist pipeline. But this is sadly the precise message they would love to project to their followers to gin up even more anti-western sentiment. For a group that claims to not be recruiting terrorists they certainly seem to be familiar with the tools of the trade.
The real question in my mind is to ask precisely how much this operation was designed to ensure public safety as opposed to a move on the political chess board. Many Germans have been actively protesting Angela Merkel’s policies in terms of accepting a flood of Islamic immigrants into the country as well as the crime wave they have been experiencing since those policies were put in place. Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party has been taking a beating in regional elections this year and if the trend continues they could lose control of the national government entirely before too long. A series of headlines such as will be generated from these raids may indeed represent the right move to combat terror and improve domestic security, but it clearly can’t hurt her party’s election fortunes either.
That may sound a bit cynical, but there are certain things which are universal in the western world when it comes to politics. Merkel may be looking to restore some of her cratering approval ratings, but if that comes as a result of shutting down a terrorist recruitment pipeline… all the better.