An overview of Germany′s Islamist scene | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 18.11.2015
  1. Inhalt
  2. Navigation
  3. Weitere Inhalte
  4. Metanavigation
  5. Suche
  6. Choose from 30 Languages


An overview of Germany's Islamist scene

There are several thousand Jihadists and radical Salafists in Germany, according to authorities. They have gathered in various groups and strive for different goals - peacefully and violently. Here, an overview:

Jihadists in Germany are younger than they used to be, and their radicalization happens over a shorter period of time, according to the Federal Criminal Office (BKA). At least 750 Islamists who don't shy away from violence have made their way from Germany to Syria so far. One-third of them have returned, officials say. 70 of the fighters came back with battlefield experience.

There seem to be ever more potential fighters to be recruited for Jihad, or "holy war." Germany's domestic intelligence agency and the BKA assume that there are 43,000 Islamists currently living in Germany. These are people who want to elevate Islam to the status of a binding societal order.

The number of Salafists continued to rise in 2014. Security authorities say there are roughly 7,900 of them. Salafists live by a particularly strict interpretation of the Islamic faith, which goes back to the Koran and other texts. Not all of them are ready to use violence to put their ideas into practice, but according to BKA President Holger Münch, the number of those who are is growing. Several groups and leaders are contributing to this radicalization.

The following hate mongers and organizations (in alphabetical order) are considered influential parts of Germany's Islamist scene.

Daesh - 'Islamic State'

The Islamist propaganda of the so-called "Islamic State" (IS), or Daesh in Arabic, reaches Germany primarily through the Internet. The terrorist organization is banned in Germany, but is ruling over large areas in Syria and Iraq. In 2014, its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed a Sunni caliphate. Tens of thousands of fighters have joined the Jihadi organization, among them several hundred from Germany.

Former Berlin rapper Denis Cuspert, aka Deso Dogg, is said to have joined IS in 2012. In videos, he called for attacks in Germany. He also appeared in beheading videos and became the most important German-language protagonist of Daesh. He was reportedly killed in October 2015 in a US air attack. Even so, radical Muslims keep traveling from Germany to Syria and Iraq to fight for IS.

Muslim men kneel in prayer. (Photo: Waltraud Grubitzsch)

Hassan Dabbagh and his congregation prayed for two Germans kidnapped in Iraq in 2006. Dabbagh says kidnappings are un-Islamic.

Hassan Dabbagh

Dabbagh is German, with Syrian roots, and is considered one of the most important leaders of Salafism in Germany. He divides people into "Muslims" and "infidels." Dabbagh is head and Imam of the Al-Rahman-Mosque in Leipzig. He regularly hosts so-called Islam seminars and Islam education gatherings.

The state of Saxony's domestic intelligence service reported in 2014 that his aggressively presented sermons were suited to contribute to the radicalization of young, less stable Muslims or converts. Dabbagh also runs a "Mobile Islamic Academy," which he uses to advertise his interpretation of Islam. His sermons can be found in numerous Internet forums.

Ibrahim Abou-Nagie

Abou-Nagie was born in the Palestinian refugee camp Nuseirat in Gaza in 1964. He became a German citizen in 1994. Even without formal theological schooling, Abou-Nagie is considered one of the most influential Salafist preachers in Germany. He distributes his texts online and calls for a very strict interpretation of Islamic law. He, too, distinguishes Muslims and "Kafir" - "infidels."

Abou-Nagie runs the website "The true religion." Members of the network run the "Read" campaign - they distribute Korans in German cities. The federal domestic intelligence service reported in 2014 that there were hints pointing to people "who originally participated in handing out Korans and later joined the fight in Syria."

Hands seen handing out Qurans. (Photo: Julian Stratenschulte/dpa)

Salafists hand out free copies of the Koran in various German cities

Islamic Community Milli Görüs (IGMG)

The "Islamic Community Milli Görüs" ("National View") is considered the largest Islamist organization in Germany. It has about 31,000 members and even more people who have close ties to the organization. Turkish politician Necmettin Erbakan founded the group in the late 1960s.

Leaders say "Capitalism" and "Zionism" are causes for the current "unfair world order" and advise their members not to be friends with "infidels." IGMG leader Mustafa Kamalak called the European Union a "Christian club" and "Union of Crusaders."

In the June 2013 German issue of the IGMG paper, the "Milli Gazete," it said: "It's heresy to put man-made laws above God's law."

Lohberger Brigade

In 2013, roughly 20 young men from the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia left to fight Jihad in Syria. They came from the town of Dinslaken, and most of them from the Lohberg district - that's how they got their name. The group allegedly gathered around self-appointed preacher Mustafa T. and consequently radicalized.

At least four of the Jihadists from Dinslaken have died in Syria, at least one of them blew himself up as a suicide bomber. One alleged member of the group was arrested at the beginning of this year: Nils D. returned to Germany in November 2014. His trial is supposed to start in January 2016.

Pierre Vogel with raised arm and fist in a crowd. (Photo: Bodo Marks dpa/lno)

Pierre Vogel surrounded by fans after a speech in Hamburg

Pierre Vogel

Pierre Vogel is considered one of the most influential Islamists in Germany. The convert has been an active Islamist preacher since 2006. He spreads his highly controversial ideas chiefly among a young audience; for example, via Internet videos. Vogel believes that wearing a full veil is compulsory for Muslim women.

He says he doesn't believe that Islam condones violence against innocents, terror attacks and honor killings. The Federal Agency for Civic Education says his worldview is based on a strict division of Islamic (right/ good) and un-Islamic (wrong/ evil) behavior. According to security authorities, Vogel's sermons could contribute to the radicalization of "individual, very religious youth."

Sven Lau

Lau comes from the same area and background as Vogel. The son of Catholic parents converted to Islam around the turn of the millennium and turned to Salafism a couple of years later. Until 2008, Lau was a firefighter in the city of Mönchengladbach in North Rhine-Westphalia. After that, he ran a store for Islamic merchandise. Lau also headed the association "Invitation to Paradise" for a while.

He said he traveled to Syria several times over the last few years for "humanitarian reasons." In September 2014, Lau garnered national attention and outrage, for example on social network Facebook, when he set up a so-called "Sharia Police" with other Salafists in Wuppertal. They tried to keep Muslim youth from entering casinos, restaurants or clubs. The prosecutor's office instituted proceedings against him for violating the right of assembly.

Screenshot Sharia Police in Wuppertal on Facebook. (Source: Shariah-Polizei-Germany/Facebook)

Photos of the "Sharia Police" spread across Germany via Facebook

Wolfsburg Cell

Roughly 20 Jihadists traveled to Iraq and Syria from Wolfsburg in 2013 and 2014 to fight for the "Islamic State." Two members of the "Wolfsburg Cell" are now in court. They traveled to Syria via Turkey in 2014. Ebrahim H. B. said in court that the group was radicalized by IS preacher Yassin O., who has fled to Syria in the meantime.

"He gave the impression of having an answer to all questions," the defendant said about the group's fascination with O. "Everyone respected him."

Both defendants are looking at sentences of up to ten years in prison. At least seven of the Wolfsburg Jihadists have died in Syria.

DW recommends