Germany’s internal intelligence agency, BfV, is currently observing 90 suspicious mosque communities that may have ties to terrorist organizations.
BfV President Hans-Georg Maassen revealed the agency is increasing surveillance in “predominately Arabic-speaking” Muslim communities. This includes so-called “backyard mosques” where unauthorized, self-proclaimed imams teach extremist values.
“What we need here in Germany is a coalition against extremism,” Maassen said Monday on German public broadcaster ARD. “And for that, we need the Muslims in Germany, the moderates, who want to fight with us against extremism on the basis of our constitutional order.”
The agency’s work has previously been more focused on known extremists and terrorists, and hasn’t spent any time on possible Islamic State sleeper cells. The problem has become more evident, with several arrests in early 2016. While the sleeper cells vary in style, they almost always link back to ISIS or al-Qaida.
“Islamic extremism, and jihadism in Germany is not possible without al-Qaida and IS,” Maassen said.
Michael Opperskalski, German investigator and editor of the Geheim magazine, said some of the sleeper cells manage to get funding from the government by fronting as legitimate organizations.
“A minority of sleeper cells belong to ISIS. Others belong to other so-called Islamist groups,” Opperskalski told Russia Today, “and some of them are supported by the German government.”
The “backyard mosques” have targeted migrants as possible recruits by offering food and shelter to lure them in.
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