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– GERMAN POLICE RAIDED ISLAMISTS HOMES

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German authorities raided, on Tuesday 12/14/2010 morning, homes and religious schools connected to two radical Islamist groups with suspected terrorist links, the German interior Ministry said (see also – Jihad Web 12.13.10 ).

The raids, in the western cities of Moenchengladbach, Braunschweig and Bremen, were aimed at Salafist groups known as the ‘Einladung zum Paradies’ – EZP, in English – Invitation to Paradise and Islamic Culture Center Bremen, ministry spokesman Stefan Paris said in a statement. The two institutions are suspected of “wanting to create an Islamic theocracy and working against the democratic order of Germany… It is necessary and important not to wait for a militant struggle in the form of jihad before intervening against unconstitutional groups,” Paris said (see also – Stockholm Blast). Pierre Vogel and Dr. Hassan Dabbagh were among the leading preachers in the  EZP- ‘Invitation to Paradise’ founded in 2007 by Muhamed Ciftci.

A security official, speaking on condition of anonymity said dozens of private homes were searched, as well as religious schools, a small publishing house and a store belonging to Invitation to Paradise that sells face-covering veils for women and caftans for men.

A local group leader for Invitation to Paradise in Moenchengladbach condemned the raids and said police had taken computers, cell phones, books and receipts during their searches. “We’re sad about this raid, we haven’t done anything illegal,” Sven Lau said in a phone interview with The Associated Press.

The searches are part of a long-term strategy to ban the two groups, which work closely together and share the same Salafiya ideology, the security official said.

“Not every Salafist turns into a terrorist, but we know that future terrorists have almost always visited Salafist workshops and schools,” the intelligence service of the State of Lower Saxony — where the searches focused on Invitation to Paradise in the city of Braunschweig — said in a 2009 report. Intelligence services say they have been watching the groups for several years. They have regularly featured in annual reports.

In online videos, Invitation to Paradise has called for the execution of secular Muslims, demanded women never leave their homes without male chaperones and said people who have sex before marriage will go to hell. It has in particular attracted young Muslim immigrants and German converts.Recent efforts by Invitation to Paradise to build a religious school in Moenchengladbach received wide media coverage and were met with strong protests by residents, who held weekly demonstrations against the Salafists. In response, more than 100 Salafists gathered on a market square during Ramadan and held public prayers at night (see also -Cultural Conflict).

Wilfried Schultz, the head of the initiative “Citizens for Moenchengladbach” against the Salafists, welcomed the raids. “We are happy that the Interior Ministry moved so fast against them and hope that it won’t take much longer until the group will be banned altogether,” Schultz told the AP.

The Interior Ministry said Tuesday’s raids were not related to the current terrorist threat to Germany (see – Alert 11.17.10).

Germany’s Federal Criminal Police office says it has “concrete evidence” that 70 German converts and young immigrants have traveled to Pakistan’s lawless border region for Military terror training in recent years, and about a third have returned to Germany (see – Taiba Mosque).

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