German authorities yesterday banned three ultraconservative Islamic groups, including one whose Internet propaganda videos helped inspire the extremist who killed two American airmen at Frankfurt airport in 2011, the country’s domestic intelligence chief said.

Police launched early morning raids on 21 apartments and one meeting room belonging to DawaFFM, Islamic Audios and al-Nussrah – all of which adhere to the hardcore conservative Salafi interpretation of Islam.

The groups were largely involved in recruitment, fundraising and propaganda, including videos and other postings urging people to fight against those who did not believe in their version of Islam, said Hans-Georg Maassen, the head of Germany’s domestic intelligence service, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution.

“These organisations are oriented against the basic right to freedom of religion – against Christians and other faiths including Shiites,” Maassen said.

DawaFFM YouTube videos and Facebook postings had helped radicalise Arid Uka – the lone-wolf attacker who killed two US airmen and injured two others at the Frankfurt Airport in 2011, Maassen said. Uka was convicted of murder last year and sentenced to life in prison.

The Salafi movement in Germany has been growing quickly, attracting both Muslims and converts, primarily men between ages 20 and 30. In 2011, there were some 3,800 people Salafis known to authorities and there are now some 4,500.

Some 70 per cent are Germans while the rest are non-Germans coming from a variety of nations including Turkey, Morocco and Bosnia, according to a security official who was only allowed to discuss the figures on condition of anonymity.

About a quarter are Muslim converts.

They have been under close observation since 2010, but that was stepped up further last year after they clashed with police in Bonn last year at a far-right demonstration.

Meanwhile, in an operation unrelated to the ban on the Salafis, German public television station SWR yesterday reported that police had arrested two Islamic extremists who were planning an attack on far-right group pro-NRW’s leader.

(This article was published on March 14, 2013)
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