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Germany’s Rising Islamic Threat
Posted By Frank Crimi On September 14, 2011 @ 12:14 am In Daily Mailer,FrontPage | 11 Comments
The rapid rise of Germany’s homegrown Islamist movement is sparking fears that it will soon turn Germany into the next European focal point of Islamic terrorism. Two recently failed plots by German Islamists to launch chemical attacks have only heightened those concerns.
Last week German authorities arrested two Islamists on suspicion of planning a chemical attack on the German capital of Berlin. The two men, one a German of Lebanese descent and the other from Gaza, had been detained after purchasing large quantities of chemicals, including cooling elements and acids used in the agriculture industry.
In April 2011 German police had thwarted a similar planned chemical attack. In that case German police arrested three German Islamists in Dusseldorf, all of whom were suspected of having links to al-Qaeda. The discovery of the Dusseldorf terror cell had been gleaned from documents uncovered in the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s quarters in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
Both incidents have served to underscore the growing determination of German Islamists to inflict upon Germany the same type of devastating terrorist attacks suffered by the United States, Britain and Spain.
That pessimistic view was on stark display when German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich recently claimed that 1,000 potential Islamist terrorists were residing in Germany. According to Friedrich, 128 of them were considered highly dangerous, with many having received training in terrorist camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In addition to Freidrich’s claim, recent reports from the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV), Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, cite an estimated 29 Islamist groups with over 34,000 members currently operating in Germany, groups whose overriding goal is the establishment of a Sharia-state in Germany.
The members of these Islamist groups are comprised mostly of young Muslim men under age 30, the majority of whom are unemployed and possess criminal records. According to a BfV spokesman, they are also prone to “rapid radicalization patterns” and possess a “high willingness to use force.”
Of course, membership in an Islamic organization isn’t the only path to would-be terrorist. There are a number of potential “lone wolf” terrorists wandering about Germany, those self-radicalized individuals who are unaffiliated with any organization.
In either case, both groups are all being encouraged to commit terrorist acts by an avalanche of online German-language Islamist propaganda. Most of the online propaganda is generated outside of Germany, with much of it originating from Pakistan’s North Waziristan region, the notorious home to both al-Qaeda and Taliban insurgents. In fact, many of these internet jihadists are German-speaking members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), a Central Asian militant group that actively recruits in Europe.
However, the internet still provides its local German jihadist voices. In June Harry Machura, a 19-year-old convert to Islam, was arrested for operating a German-language jihadist website called Islamic Hacker Union (IHU) that, among other things, sought the recruitment of suicide bombers. Machura, aka Isa Al Khattab, was also accused of supporting al-Qaeda linked terror groups, including the IMU and the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI).
Not surprisingly, the rise in Islamist propaganda has coincided with the surge in Muslim immigration to Germany. Home to an estimated 4.3 million Muslim immigrants, Germany has Western Europe’s second-biggest Islamic population after France. Most of these immigrants hail from Turkey, but others come from Central Asia, North Africa, and West Africa.
One of the consequences of such a rapid influx of a large immigrant group has been the creation of a Muslim subculture in Germany, one that has become increasingly vocal in its desire to resist assimilation into German society.
To further fuel the anti-assimilation message, Germany’s Islamic preachers have not confined themselves to just German mosques but have embarked on a more public campaign to proselytize. As one German intelligence official said, “They (imams) used to hide in the mosque but now they are encouraged to be public. They show their opinion.”
To that end, this grassroots campaign has evidenced itself through imams using online videos and discussion forums to spread Salafism and a call for forcibly re-establishing an Islamic Caliphate across Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.
In one respect, that effort has taken a foothold in Germany with the growth of Islamic arbitration, a parallel legal system used by German Muslims in which Islamic arbiters settle cases outside the German justice system. It’s led one German judge to comment, “The law is slipping out of our hands. It’s moving to the streets… where an imam or another representative of the Koran determines what must be done.”
In addition to the role Muslim immigrants play in Germany’s Islamist movement has been the added participation of high-profile, highly outspoken native-born converts to Islam. These converts, according to German officials, pose serious security risks for their ability to viscerally connect with young audiences. As one German correctional official noted, these converts achieve almost rock star status because “they are seen as tough enough to speak out in public.”
One such convert is Pierre Vogel, a former professional boxer, who converted to Islam and became an Islamic preacher. Vogel, who has suspected ties to Islamic jihadist groups, has made a career making speeches and online videos in which he rails against Muslim integration into German society.
Another convert is Denis Mamadou Cuspert, a former street gang member and popular rapper of Ghanaian decent who converted to Islam in 2009. Cuspert has been accused of inciting violence and unrest through fiery videos and speeches that document his transition from street thug to devout Muslim. It’s a transition that allows Cuspert to, as he notes, use his “voice for telling people the truth, and the truth is, jihad is a duty.”
Cuspert’s message, like so many of his Islamist competitors, has a long reach, evidenced by comments made by one online commenter from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region who said of Cuspert: “The brother’s voice has reached the hearts of many people here, too.”
Unfortunately, the jihadist message also finds its mark closer to home. Such was the case when Arid Uka, a Muslim immigrant from Kosovo, claimed he was under the influence of Islamist propaganda when he killed two American soldiers in Frankfurt in March 2011. That assault marked the first successful attack by an Islamic extremist on German soil.
Unfortunately for most Germans, it doesn’t portend to be the last.
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