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Gabriel warns Saudi Arabia over Islamist funding

December 6, 2015

German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) has urged Saudi Arabia to end their financial support of radical religious groups in Germany. The call comes amid growing concern about the funding of extremist mosques.

Salafists in Berlin
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

Gabriel's comments on Sunday followed a report released by the German foreign intelligence agency (BND) on Wednesday, which suggested that Saudi Arabia's foreign policy was becoming more "impulsive."

In an unusual move, however, the German Foreign Ministry rebuked the BND for accusing Saudi Arabia of being a destabilizing influence in the Middle East, insisting that the oil-rich kingdom is a key business partner.

Time to look away is past

In an interview with the German newspaper "Bild am Sonntag," Gabriel said that Saudi Arabia needed "to solve the regional conflicts," but added that it was also necessary to "make clear that the time to look away is past."

"Wahhabi mosques are financed all over the world by Saudi Arabia. In Germany, many dangerous Islamists come from these communities," Gabriel said.

Saudi Arabia follows the ultra-conservative Wahhabi form of Islam and is regarded by some outsiders as a cause of the international jihadist threat.

Public concern about the growing number of Salifists in Germany is on the increase. According to the BND, the number of Salafists has risen from 5,500 to 7,900 in just two years. The terrorist attacks in Paris last month have also heightened fears of an attack on German soil.

Non-combat military support

In response to France's call for more help in the fight against 'IS' in Syria, Germany's parliament agreed on Friday to support the US-led alliance with non-combat military support.

Germany's Bundeswehr won't take part in the airstrikes against 'IS,' but it is sending reconnaissance and refueling aircraft, in addition to a warship, to aid the alliance against the group. A German naval frigate carrying 230 soldiers also joined a French aircraft carrier on Sunday in the southeast Mediterranean.

ksb/jlw (Reuters, dpa)