The Growing Threat of Radical Islamic Groups in Germany

, April 21, 2009

Vol. 8, No. 27    

  • Germany has been increasingly forced to confront “homegrown” Islamist terrorism, the threat of radicalized converts to Islam, and the threat of non-integrated Muslim immigrants. In 2003, Iranian-backed Hizbullah was found to have identified Israeli, Jewish, and American facilities in Germany as terror targets. Which are the prominent radical Islamic groups operating in Germany?

  • The Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), one of the most significant threats to German national security, is a Sunni terrorist organization closely associated with al-Qaeda. IJU is well known to the German public due to frequent video threats published on the Internet and on television.

  • Hizb ut-Tahir al-Islami (HuT) is a clandestine, radical Islamist political organization that operates in 40 countries around the world including Germany, which banned the organization in 2003. Prior to its ban, HuT operated mainly in college towns in Germany, and orchestrated a terrorist attack in 2006, when two terrorists placed two suitcases containing bombs (which failed to detonate) on regional trains in Germany.

  • 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 and is the institution most engaged in exporting the Islamic Revolution of Iran. It has branches in Berlin, Munich, Muenster, and Hannover, pointing to the ability of Hizbullah to launch attacks within Germany at any time in line with directives from the Iranian Supreme Leadership.

  • Millî Görüş (MG), a radical Islamic group associated with Islamist parties in Turkey, is anti-Western, anti-Semitic, anti-Israeli, and opposes integration into Western society by the 2.5 million Turkish immigrants and their families in Germany. Yakup Akbay of the Fathi Mosque in Munich told Turkish television in 2007: “When Europe, as we hope, will be Islamized, the credit has to be given to the Turkish community. That’s the reason for us doing the groundwork.”

 

 

Islamic Jihad Union

 

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 Germany to “join the jihad.”7 In another video published on January 31, 2009, the group threatened to strike in Germany and warned viewers in German of the IJU’s goal to Islamize the world.8

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 I

David Perl

David Perl was a Legacy Heritage Fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He holds an M.A. in Counter-Terrorism and Homeland Security Studies.