On Wednesday 5th of May 2021, the Federal Republic of Germany banned Ansaar International Islamic organization over terrorism financing suspicions as part of the government crackdown on Islamic radicalism and terror financing. The police also raided all the affiliates of the group.
“If you want to fight terror you have to dry up its sources of funding”, said the Interior Minister Horst Seehofer on Twitter.
Ansaar International platform reveals that it was founded in Düsseldorf in 2012 as a Muslim relief organization. The homepage also shows the organization principle objective which is to provide humanitarian aid to vulnerable people affected by war and disasters.
The organization carries out its humanitarian aid through different measures by constructing or financing hospitals and schools in Lebanon, Sudan, and Palestinian territories. It also added that Ansaar organization has around 800 members in Germany and about 2,500 members abroad.
Yet, the Interior Minister asserted that Ansaar works to spread extremist Salafist views, adding Ansaar “spread a Salafist world view and finance terror around the world under the guise of humanitarian aid” said Horst Seehofer.
The Islamist organization has been accused for sending funds to terrorist groups overseas including the Al-Nusra Front in Syria, and Al-Shabab in Somalia under the guise of humanitarian aid.
A huge number of police officers had taken part in the police raids, the Interior Ministry said that about 1,000 police offers participated in the police raids on Ansaar affiliates across 10 states Wednesday morning, whereby 150,000 euros in cash had been confiscated by the police. Affected states included Rhineland-Palatinate, Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, Brandenburg, Hamburg, North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein and Hesse.
The German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle has also reported that other associations affiliated or linked to Ansaar have been banned as well, including Änis Ben-Hatira Foundation (named after the German-Tunisian football player), the Somali Committee for Information and Advice in Darmstadt, the women’s rights association ANS.Justice, and second-hand charity stores Umma Shop and Better World Appeal.
Although that these so-called sub-organizations are formally independent, the German newspaper die Zeit reported on its website that the sub-organizations were financially dependent on one another serving the sole purpose of disguising the flow of money” under the control of the chairman of Ansaar International the report added.
The 2021 police raids on Ansaar resembles the second time of security authorities breaking in, as in 2019 the police also raided offices belonging to Ansaar on suspicion of financing Hamas, the Palestinian militant group, and has carried out a series of investigations.
Deutsche Welle also reported that Ansaar sends German children to Ansaar’s organizations abroad in order to radicalize them. “The children are trained to internalize Salafist extremist content and spread it back to Germany” adds the Interior Minister.
In recent years, far left, far right, and Islamist extremist violence have resurged. The German intelligence has also declared last year that the number of Salafists in the country had increased to an all-time high of 12,150.
Germany has been the scene for numerous terrorist attacks in recent years. Combating Islamic radicalism has been a priority for the German government and a dominant theme in conservatives bloc and right wing parties, ever since large scale of immigration from the Middle East increased the country’s Muslim population to around 5.5 million, almost one million more than a year before, representing 6.5% of the total national population
The conservatives bloc, constituting Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party, and the Christian Social Union (CSU). Last month, the bloc proposed cutting all subsidies, support and cooperation with Islamist groups that are being monitored by the domestic intelligence agency.
The government is having a clear position in combating Islamic extremism, as radical Islamic terrorism is a major threat in Germany.