Saturday, April 16, 2005

Police arrest seven Islamists

MUNICH - Police on Thursday arrested seven Islamic extremists and raided 31 mosques, homes and offices in this year's third crackdown in Germany on fund-raising for terrorism.

In months of surveillance, police discovered that two Munich-based activists had raised EUR 1 million between them to finance Islamist groups abroad. They are likely to be charged with money laundering and tax evasion.

Hundreds of police fanned out at dawn in six states and the Belgian capital Brussels to search premises of everyone who had been in recent contact with the 43-year-old Tunisian and the 47-year-old Egyptian.

"Each of them had raised about half a million euros, and we can't rule out

that it was even more," said a Munich police official.

A spokeswoman for Munich police said 12 premises, including two mosques, were searched in Munich alone, with the rest of the sites checked being located in other Bavarian towns and the states of Berlin, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bremen, Lower Saxony and Hamburg.

The sites checked in Brussels were publishers' offices.

"We looked at the homes and offices of anyone who had any sort of contact to these two suspects," she said. Police took away tax records, other business documents, desktop computers, cash and a small quantity of banned drugs.

The two men are likely to face charges under German laws that require tax audits of charities and notification to statistical authorities of major foreign exchange transactions. Police did not say what the other five men were accused of.

The state of Bavaria also spearheaded this year's two earlier nationwide sweeps of Islamist fund-raisers.

"We'll step up the pressure on Islamist extremists even more and use every possible provision of immigration law to deport as fast as possible those who threaten us or preach hatred," said the Bavarian interior minister, Guenther Beckstein.

Police said the two main suspects had valid immigration permits.
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?