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Nearly 1,000 Salafist extremists in Berlin: report

January 17, 2018

Berlin's Salafist extremist scene has tripled since 2011, according to a report from Germany's domestic intelligence agency. Russians comprise the largest foreign national group in the scene.

Murat K., a German Salafist accused of attacking police with knives
Image: picture alliance/dpa/O. Berg

Germany's domestic intelligence agency reported a significant increase in the extremist Salafist scene in Berlin, more than tripling its members since 2011, according to the Berlin-based Der Tagesspiegel newspaper.

Berlin's Salafist extremist scene comprised some 950 people, said a situation report from domestic intelligence, known as the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV). Those considered "dangerous" – or classified as prone to commit an act of violence – have quadrupled since 2011, comprising 420 people.

Read more: Number of Salafists in Germany reaches record high

At least half of the scene's members are German, of which only a third are dual nationals. Russians represented the largest foreign national group of the extremist scene, according to the BfV report.

Meanwhile, men made up nearly 90 percent of the scene, with an average age of 34 years. The average of age of women in the scene was 33.

While Salafists adhere to a strict interpretation of Islam's sacred texts and traditions, notably emphasizing material displays of faith such as wearing garments above the ankles, not all are considered extremists or politically active.

While not all Salafists are considered extremists, many participate in "Da'wah" – or the "call" – which includes proselytizing
While not all Salafists are considered extremists, many participate in "Da'wah" – or the "call" – which includes proselytizingImage: picture alliance/dpa/J. Stratenschulte

Berlin bolsters counterterrorism strategy

In the wake of the 2016 Christmas market terror attack in Berlin, German authorities have bolstered counterterrorism measures, including efforts to prevent radicalization.

Most notably, Berlin's office of the interior outlawed a mosque association known as "Fussilet 33" last year over alleged links to the "Islamic State" militant group. Authorities believed that the association was used as a meeting point for radical Islamists.

Read more: Growing number of potential Islamist terrorists in Germany, says police chief

Last month, German police launched raids on several properties in Berlin and the German state of Saxony-Anhalt linked to the suspected Berlin Christmas market attacker, Anis Amri, who allegedly visited mosques run by the "Fussilet 33" mosque association.

German authorities have reported that up to 705 Islamists in the country are considered a threat to public safety. However, a report published by Germany's federal police (BKA) last month noted that the number of "dangerous" Islamists was likely half of previously reported figures.

ls/kms (dpa, epd)