German authorities raided the premises of Ansaar International across the country on Wednesday after Interior Minister Horst Seehofer announced a ban on the Islamist organization and its sub-groups.
“If you want to fight terror, you have to dry up its sources of money,” Seehofer said. “Those who collect donations for apparently charitable purposes, but then finance terrorism, cannot be allowed to hide behind our laws on association.”
The Interior Ministry said it believed the group’s missionary activities were in contravention of the German constitution, charging that “enemies were constantly being created of a world order that safeguards the dignity of those of other beliefs.”
German children were being sent to facilities set up abroad where they were indoctrinated with “extremist Salafist ideas” to bring back to Germany, it said.
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Ansaar International said Joel Abdurahman Kayser, its founder and head, had written to Seehofer in April stating: “We at Ansaar love and live the idea of understanding between all nations.”
The raids involving 1,000 government agents took place across 10 of Germany’s 16 states with the main focus on North Rhine Westphalia (NRW). Cash to the value of 150,000 euros (180,000 dollars) was seized.
NRW Interior Minister Herbert Reul said more than 500,000 euros held in two accounts had been frozen. He referred to a Salafist network with more than 400 supporters and said successor organizations would be monitored.
The ministry said donations were being collected to fund terrorist organizations outside Germany, in particular the al-Nusra Front in Syria, Hamas in the Palestinian Territories and al-Shabaab in Somalia.
Donors were apparently defrauded by the false statement that the funds were used exclusively for humanitarian purposes.
The network was raided in April 2019, when material was seized, providing information on its activities. While Ansaar International has its headquarters in Dusseldorf, other sub-groups are scattered across Germany.
Seehofer has now banned eight organizations since taking up his post in 2018. They include Turkish and Kurdish groups, Hezbollah based in Lebanon, and four German right-wing groups.