The Growing Threat of Radical Islamic
Vol. 8, No. 27 April 21, 2009
The Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), widely considered to be one of the most significant threats to German national security,1 is an offshoot of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.2 It is a Sunni terrorist organization whose close association with al-Qaeda was confirmed by those arrested in connection with terrorist attacks in Bukhara/Uzbekistan in 2004,3 who testified about the close ties between the IJU leadership, Osama bin Laden, and Mullah Omar.4 In addition, the IJU runs training camps together with al-Qaeda in the Waziristan border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan.5
IJU is well known to the German public due to
frequent video threats published on the Internet and on television.6
In an IJU video published in April 2008, a German convert to Islam, Eric Breiniger, called on Muslims in
Breiniger is an example of a dangerous trend of radicalized German converts to Islam who are indoctrinated and trained in the terror camps of the IJU.9 Another illustration of this is the 2007 bomb plot in Germany which was orchestrated by three terrorists, among them two German converts, Fritz Gelowicz and Daniel Martin Schneider, both of whom had attended Pakistani camps run by the Islamic Jihad Union.10 The two were arrested in Germany after planning to attack Frankfurt International Airport and U.S. military installations, including Ramstein Air Base.11 These examples demonstrate the new danger posed by German converts to radical Islam who, via the IJU, are building a network of potential sleeper cells made up of native Germans and not exclusively people of Middle Eastern descent.
Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami
Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami (HuT) is a clandestine, cadre-operated, radical Islamist political organization that operates in 40 countries around the world including Germany, with headquarters apparently in London.12 The declared goal of HuT is jihad against the West and the overthrow of existing political regimes and their replacement with a religious, pan-Islamic state based on shari'a (Islamic law).13 Germany banned the organization on January 15, 2003.14
Prior to its ban, HuT operated mainly in college towns in Germany since its target audience was mainly young academics and students.15 There, HuT advocated the incompatibility of democracy and Islamic order.16 According to data provided by the German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, in 2005 HuT had about 300 members in Germany.17
HuT attracted international attention in Germany on July 31, 2006, when two terrorists, Jihad Hamad and Youssef el-Hajdib, placed two suitcases containing bombs on regional trains in Germany,18 though the bombs failed to detonate due to faulty construction.19 According to German authorities, this attempted attack was orchestrated by HuT in coordination with the al-Qaeda affiliate Fatah al-Islam.20 Saddam el-Hajdib, the brother of Youssef el-Hajdib, was suspected of having helped plan the attack and was known to be a high-ranking member of Fatah al-Islam. He was killed during the 2007 confrontation between the Lebanese Armed Forces and Fatah al-Islam.21
While banned in
The Islamic Center in Hamburg (IZH), which was under the direct guidance of Iran's Ayatollah Khameini between 1978 and 1980, is considered to be the most important Hizbullah base in Germany.23 It is currently headed by Ayatollah Seyyed Abbas Hosseini Ghaemmaghami24 and is the institution most engaged in exporting the Islamic Revolution of Iran.25 The center is frequently visited by Shiites from Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Turkey, and Pakistan, as well as German converts to Islam.26 It has branches in Berlin, Munich, Muenster, and Hannover.27
Alexander Ritzmann, a
senior fellow at the European Foundation for Democracy whose research focuses
on the radicalization of Muslims in
Currently, Hizbullah in Germany focuses primarily on collecting donations.32 German authorities closed two charitable institutions engaged in fundraising for Hizbullah in 2002: the al-Shahid Social Relief Institution33 and the al-Aqsa Fund.34 However, other institutions connected to Hizbullah still remain active in Germany, among them the IZH and the Orphaned Children Project Lebanon.35 German policymakers still accept the idea that there is a political Hizbullah independent of those Hizbullah terrorists who have murdered hundreds of people around the world.36 This is a misinterpretation. As Mohammed Fannish, a member of the political bureau of Hizbullah and a former Lebanese energy minister, declared in 2002: "I can state that there is no separating between Hizbullah's military and political arms."37
(MG) is a radical Islamic group associated with a religio-political
movement and a series of Islamist parties in Turkey.38 The German
chapter of Millî Görüş was
MG is headed by Osman Döring and has approximately 27,000 members, according to the German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution.43 Other German sources, however, claim that MG has between 57,000 and 80,000 members.44 It is considered a key organization because it reaches out to the 2.5 million Turkish immigrants and their families and people of Turkish origin in Germany.45
MG's focus involves a long-term strategy to disseminate its radical Islamic ideas.46 It offers radical Islamic-oriented education in mosques and community centers, especially for children and young immigrants in Germany.47 For instance, Yakup Akbay, the dean of the Fathi Mosque's juvenile department in Munich, which is controlled by MG, was cited by Turkish television TV5 on June 6, 2007, as saying: "When Europe, as we [MG] hope, will be Islamized, the credit has to be given to the Turkish community. That's the reason for us doing the groundwork."48 Such statements and education underlie the process of radicalization among young Muslims in Germany.49 Yet German officials have not banned MG, though they continue to monitor the organization.
The numerous radical Islamic groups pose an
important challenge not just to
* * *
1. Verfassungsschutzbericht 2007 (Report of the Federal Office of the Protection of the Constitution), p. 201, http://www.verfassungsschutz.de
2. Country Reports on Terrorism 2005, U.S. Department of State, Office of the Coordinator for Counter Terrorism, April 2006, p. 108, http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/65462.pdf
3. Richard Boucher, "
6. Review the latest video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vR4caXRq9I4
7. Peter Carstens, "Al Qaedas Video-Club," Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 22 February 2009, http://www.faz.net/s/Rub594835B672714A1DB1A121534F010EE1/Doc~ ED9E66AE2EE0D454391FFE4C3075D88D7~ATpl~Ecommon~Scontent.html
8. Alexander Ritzmann, "Terroristen machen mit Mythen Propaganda," Welt Online, 4 February 2009, http://www.welt.de/politik/article3145310/Terroristen- machen-mit-Mythen-Propaganda.html
10. Alexander G. Higgins, "Germans Concerned about Muslim Convert," Washington Post, 7 September 2007, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp- dyn/content/article/2007/09/07/AR2007090701476.html
12. Bundesministerium des Inneren, "Schily verbietet die islamisch extremistische Organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir in Deutschland," 15 January 2003, http://www.bmi.bund.de/cln_028/nn_165140/Internet/Content/Nachrichten/ Archiv/ Pressemitteilungen/2003/01/Schily__verbietet__die__islamisch__Id__91334__de.html
13. Country Reports on Terrorism 2005.
14. Verfassungsschutzbericht 2007, p. 208, http://www.verfassungsschutz.de
15. Verfassungsschutzbericht 2005, pp. 209-210, http://www.verfassungsschutz.de
18. "Kofferbomber: Eine Chronologie," http://www.wdr.de/themen/panorama/kriminalitaet10/kofferbomber/ 071024_chronologie.jhtml? rubrikenstyle=panorama&rubrikenstyle=panorama
20. "Spuren im Internet," 27 August 2006, Sueddeutsche Online, http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/564/ 394353/text and "Schwere Kämpfe und ein Anschlag im Libanon," 21 May 2007, FAZ.net, http://www.faz.net/s/RubDDBDABB9457A437BAA85A49C26FB23A0/Doc~E9CDC0AFFCC074C22A89A09785B5D2B47 ~ATpl~Ecommon~Scontent.html
21. "Suspect in German Bomb Plot
22. See official websites of HuT
24. See website of Islamic Center in
25. "Islamismus, Entstehung und aktuelle Erscheinungsformen," Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, March 2006, p. 38.
28. Alexander Ritzmann,
"Töten im Auftrag
der ‘Partei Gottes,'" Welt Online, 10 October 2007, see
In his article Mr. Ritzmann contends that
"according to the French judge Gilles Boulouque,
the Argentine federal judge José Galeano, and the
superior court of justice of
29. Testimony of Alexander Ritzmann, "Adding Hizbullah to the E.U. Terrorist List," Statement before the United States House of Representatives, Committee of Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Europe, June 20, 2007, see http://www.aicgs.org/documents/advisor/ritzmann0707.pdf
30. Ilan Berman,
"Hizbullah: Made in Teheran," American
Foreign Policy Council, 28 September 2006, see
http://www.afpc.org/event_listings/viewCongressionalHearing/48; "Hisbollah plant Hauptquartier in
31. Alexander Ritzmann, "Töten im Auftrag."
32. Verfassungsschutzbericht 2005, pp. 218-219, see http://www.verfassungsschutz.de
33. The al-Shahid Social Relief Institution was the German branch of the Lebanese al-Shahid Association (the "Martyr's Association"), see http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/html/hezbollah.htm
34. The al-Aqsa Fund - a fund owned by the Hamas movement, which in the past conducted several fundraising campaigns also on behalf of Hizbullah; see http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/ eng_n/html/hezbollah.htm
35. The Orphaned Children Project
36. Testimony of Alexander Ritzmann, "Adding Hezbollah to the E.U. Terrorist List."
38. Verfassungsschutzbericht 2007, p. 240, http://www.verfassungsschutz.de
39. Ibid., p. 217.
40. Michael Kiefer, Islamkunde in deutscher Sprache in Nordrhein-Westfalen: Kontext, Geschichte, Verlauf und Akzeptanz eines Schulversuchs. LIT, Berlin/Hamburg/Münster 2005, p. 48.
42. Islamismus, Entstehung und aktuelle Erscheinungsformen, Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, March 2006, p. 32.
44. Handan Çetinkaya,
"Türkische Selbstorganisationen in
Deutschland: Neuer Pragmatismus
nach der ideologischen Selbstzerfleischung,"
in Dietrich Thränhardt, Uwe
Hunger (Hrsg.), Einwanderer-Netzwerke und ihre Integrationsqualität in Deutschland und
45. Statistisches Bundesamt Deutschland, 1.713.551 türkische Staatsbürger am 31.12.2007 Quelle: Ausländerzentralregister (AZR), see http://www.destatis.de/jetspeed/portal/cms/Sites/destatis/Internet/DE/Content/ Statistiken/Bevoelkerung/AuslaendischeBevoelkerung/Tabellen/Content50/TOP10,templateId=renderPrint.psml
46. Verfassungsschutzbericht 2007, pp. 184-185.
48. Ibid., p. 228-229.
49. Ibid., p. 185.