German Interior Minister Horst Lorenz Seehofer on Wednesday outlawed a Dusseldorf-based Islamist group for allegedly giving cash donations to designated terrorist groups overseas, including Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the Nusra Front in Syria and Al-Shabab in Somalia.
In a tweet on Wednesday, ministry spokesman Steve Alter said Ansaar International and its subsidiary organizations were banned for “financing terrorism worldwide with donations.”
Alter quoted Seehofer as saying: “If you want to fight terror, you have to dry up its sources of money.”
German authorities also outlawed eight other groups in the country with ties to Ansaar International accused of fundraising for terrorist groups and extremist religious indoctrination. These groups also target children and teenagers and send them to “religious camps” outside of Germany.
Among other tactics, these groups use photographs of suffering children in Gaza, Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan to raise millions of euros annually. Donations are collected for supposed humanitarian initiatives, but in actuality they are funneled to terrorist groups.
Police raids across Germany
Police raided offices in 10 different states as part of the move on Wednesday morning. About half of the 90 people detained were based in North Rhine-Westphalia, the state where Dusseldorf is located. Other raids were carried out in various neighborhoods in Berlin and Hamburg – two hubs of extremist Islamic activity in the country.
Founded by the German rapper and Muslim convert Joel Kayser, Ansaar International claims on its website to be an aid organization with a focus on Syria, Somalia, the Palestinian territories and Afghanistan.
It claims to have has funded hospital and orphanage construction projects for Muslim and Christian victims of Boko Haram in Africa, and in the war-ravaged Syrian city of Aleppo.
The German Interior Ministry said Ansaar and its affiliates” missionary work violates German law because it demeans, among other things, people of other religions.
The organization is also accused by the German Interior Ministry of “spreading a Salafist worldview and financing terror around the world under the guise of humanitarian aid.”