1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

German police raid suspected pro-Hezbollah Islamist groups

November 16, 2023

The Interior Ministry has said it is searching objects related to the Islamic Center of Hamburg, which is suspected of supporting the militant group Hezbollah.

A police officer seen behind a crime-scene tape
Police conducted raids in seven federal statesImage: Hannes P Albert/dpa/picture alliance

German authorities conducted nationwide searches of 54 locations across seven federal states connected to the Islamic Center of Hamburg (IZH) on Thursday morning, the Interior Ministry said.

In a statement, the ministry said the IZH was suspected of "acting against constitutional order" and of "supporting [the] terror organization Hezbollah."

No arrests were made during the raids, which were carried out to secure evidence on the suspicion that the Hamburg center and affiliated groups back the activities of Hezbollah.

In 2020, Germany designated Hezbollah a terrorist organization and banned its activities on German soil. 

What have German politicians said?

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) said the IZH had long been under surveillance by German intelligence services and has been categorized as "Islamist."

"We have the Islamist scene in our sights," she said following the early morning raids.

"Especially now, at a time when many Jews feel particularly threatened, it's important to state: we do not tolerate Islamist propaganda or antisemitic and anti-Israel agitation," Faeser added. 

"Now especially is the time to be on high alert and for a tough approach. This is why we are following every reasonable suspicion seriously."

SPD politician Andy Grote, the interior senator for the city-state of Hamburg, called the raids a "hard blow" against the IZH whose time, he said, "has run out."

"The sooner the IZH disappears from Hamburg entirely, the better," he said. "Today, we've come a great deal closer to that."

Grote said that intelligence services in Hamburg have long been warning of the "extremist tendencies" of the IZH and have "kept up the pressure."

"I'm pleased that the federal interior ministry is pushing strongly for a ban. I am confident that this process will be concluded thoroughly and that the IZH will soon be closed."

What is the Islamic Center of Hamburg?

Germany's domestic intelligence services believe that the IZH, considered an extension of the Iranian regime in Germany, has a large influence over certain mosques and associations, or even controls them.

One mosque operated by the IZH is the Imam Ali Mosque in Hamburg, known as the Blue Mosque.

The controlling association was founded in 1953 by Iranian immigrants. According to the Interior Ministry, its activities are aimed at spreading the Iranian revolutionary ideas.

While you're here: Every Tuesday, DW editors round up what is happening in German politics and society. You can sign up here for the weekly email newsletter Berlin Briefing. 

mf/rt (dpa, AFP, Reuters)