Radical Islamists aim to infiltrate Hamburg mosques
(Photo: An imam leads prayers at Central Mosque in Hamburg October 8, 2010/Christian Charisius)
Radical Islamists from a shut down Hamburg mosque linked to the September 11 attacks on the United States are now trying to infiltrate other mosques in and around the German city, according to officials and Muslim leaders.
Small groups of radicals have turned up at several mosques trying to establish a new meeting place since the Taiba Mosque, where the 9/11 leader Mohammad Atta once prayed, was raided and closed by police in August, they told Reuters.
With radicals no longer grouped around one mosque near the city’s main train station, security services have stepped up their observation of Islamists around the city and Muslim associations are on the lookout for suspicious newcomers.
“There are small groups of 3 to 5 people from the former Taiba Mosque who have gone to other mosques,” said Ralf Kunz, internal affairs spokesman for the city government. Individual radicals have turned up “at lots of mosques, both in Hamburg and the surrounding region,” he said. “They have not been able to assemble at any mosque.”
Muslim organizations in the city said they had stepped up their vigilance. Mustafa Yoldas, head of Hamburg’s largest Muslim group Schura, said it had no evidence of any problem at its mosques but added: “The salafis are trying to get a foothold in some other congregations. I know of two mosques where they meet and give lectures… They are and will remain a fringe group, they will never be mainstream here.”
At DITIB, a German-Turkish association linked to Ankara’s Religious Affairs Ministry, regional chairman Zekeriya Altug said his group’s structure made it harder to infiltrate. “I know that the (Taiba Mosque) congregation has been split up and is seeking refuge elsewhere,” he said. “Our imams are university graduates who are competent to counter them.”