Germany targets Islamist group in nationwide raids
BERLIN: German police raided more than 80 buildings across the country in a nationwide crackdown on suspected members of a banned Islamic group on Thursday, seizing computers, bank account details and documents.
The raids in 11 states across the country began at 6 am, the interior ministry said in a statement. It did not say whether there were any arrests. Germany banned the 50-year-old Islamist Hizb ut-Tahrir in January, accusing it of promoting anti-Jewish sentiment in universities and elsewhere. It was the third such group to be banned in Germany under anti-terror legislation adopted after the September 11.
“Today’s measures are a clear warning to everyone that we will act against violent propaganda and anti-Semitic agitation... This organisation wishes to sow hate and violence,” said Interior Minister Otto Schily who ordered the raid.
Schily has said the organisation denies the right of Israel to exist and promotes the use of violence, including the killing of Jews and their expulsion from Israel.
He has said the organisation was particularly active on university campuses and noted that three of the September 11 hijackers had been part of an Islamic group active at Hamburg University, where they had studied. Hizb ut-Tahrir became well known in Germany after staging a rally at Berlin’s Technical University in October at which the main speaker made anti-American comments. Members of Germany’s extreme right-wing NPD were also in attendance. The ban in January coincided with police raids on more than 25 buildings in five federal states, including Berlin. Hizb ut-Tahrir was founded in 1953 in Jerusalem by Taqiuddin al-Nabhani and wants a return to the Islamic Caliphate.
Twenty five people, including three Britons, are currently on trial in Cairo accused of trying to overthrow the Egyptian government and of spreading propaganda for the Hizb ut-Tahrir, which is banned in Egypt but not in Britain. —Reuters