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Authorities warned of possible jihadist attacks on rail facilities in Berlin and Dresden. Over 200 police officers conducted raids on 12 radical Salafist properties in Berlin, including a mosque, last night, arresting two people suspected of recruiting and fundraising for the Islamic State. One of the the suspects, Ismet D., 41 and of Turkish origin, is thought to lead "an Islamist extremist group made up of Turkish and Russia nationals from Chechnya and Dagestan." The raids followed months of investigation into Berlin-based extremists, including five Turkish citizens suspected of money laundering and "preparing a serious act of violence against the state in Syria." Authorities arrested a German-Tunisian man in Wolfsburg who had returned from Syria and is suspected of membership in the Islamic State. Police raided apartments of a number of Islamists in Pforzheim who were thought to be planning a "significant subversive attack."
Arsonists targeted the offices of a newspaper in Hamburg that had reprinted cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed after the terrorist attack on a satirical magazine in Paris; two suspects were arrested. Justice Minister Maas urged organizers of an anti-Islamization rally scheduled for Jan. 12 to cancel the event; a large government-sponsored rally in Dresden yesterday protested against the anti-Islamization rallies.
Federal prosecutors charged a 36-year-old German man and a 27-year-old Turkish citizen with belonging to Junud al Sham, a foreign terror group in Syria. The two had traveled to Syria in 2013, trained with the group, and fought there. Justice Minister Heiko Maas called the terrorist attack against a magazine in Paris "an attack against Islam," and stated that the "vast majority of Muslims in Germany consider it a betrayal of their beliefs."
The Parliament authorized the deployment of up to 850 German soldiers in 2015 to Afghanistan to participate in NATO's "Resolute Support" training mission. The government is also planning to send some 100 Bundeswehr soldiers to northern Iraq to train Kurdish Peshmerga forces.
In Germany's first-ever trial of an Islamic State fighter, Kreshnik Berisha was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison. Authorities estimate that of some 550 Germans who have joined the Islamic State in the Middle East, 60 have been killed and 180 have returned to Germany; about 300 people are currently under investigation. Germany plans to contribute about 150 million euros per year to NATO's Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan and will leave 850 German troops in the country after Jan. 1, 2015.
The Interior Ministry now estimates that 550 people have left Germany to fight for extremist groups in Iraq and Syria, up from an estimate of 450 a few days ago. Authorities are also monitoring 230 other people who are considered possible threats in Germany.
The Defense Ministry said Germany will keep 850 troops in Afghanistan next year, slightly more than anticipated, and noted that German forces will continue responsibility for the Coalition mission in northern Afghanistan. Development Minister Müller pledged to continue Germany's development support to Afghanistan so long as the Afghan government carries out needed reforms. Cem Özdemir, co-chair of the Green Party, called for more aid and greater engagement with Iraqis in Kurdistan.
Four men who belonged al Qaeda's "Dusseldorf cell" and had planned to detonate two cluster bombs amid a large crowd in Germany were sentenced to jail terms ranging from four to nine years. The plans for the attack were found on the hard drive of one of Osama bin Laden's computers. Antiterrorism police in Cologne detained nine men, including a 58-year-old Pakistani and a 31-year-old German who are suspected of supporting and facilitating recruitment for the Islamic State and two other terrorist groups.
Kreshnik B,. who is on trial for joining the Islamic State in Syria, told the court that he still wants to die a martyr. Security officials estimate that some 50 people have left Germany to join the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Syria, and that there are about 13,000 members of the banned organization in Germany.
The head of domestic intelligence said the number of Salafists in Germany has risen alarmingly over the past three years, from 3,800 to at least 6,300. German authorities say that over 450 people have left Germany to fight for extremist groups Iraq and Syria and some 150 are known to have returned, but acknowledge that other German jihadists have not been tracked.
Authorities are seeking to send Erhan A., 22, a Turkish Salafist from Kempten, back to Turkey after arresting him recently. Erhan has fought in Iraq or Syria, and has links to Islamic State fighters as well as an Islamic State recruiting network in Germany.
German authorities arrested two suspected Shabaab operatives, 30-year-old German-Tunisian dual citizen Mounir T. and 22-year-old German citizen Abdiwahid W., on their arrival in Frankfurt yesterday after being deported from Kenya. On Aug. 29, Kenyan antiterrorism police had arrested German nationals Warsame Abdul Wahid and Tebourbe Mounir in Nairobi after they arrived from Somalia; they were suspected of links to Shabaab.
A recent report by the Interior Ministry notes that 40 women are among the 348 people known to have left Germany to fight for Islamist groups. The report also states that of the 120 German jihadists who have returned from Syria, only about 24 have agreed to cooperate with authorities. German authorities are currently conducting some 140 investigations against Islamic State fighters or supporters, and federal prosecutors have initiated 33 cases involving more than 60 jihadist suspects.
The trial of Kreshnik Berisha, an ethnic Kosovan from Frankfurt who is the first German accused of membership in the Islamic State, has begun. He had traveled to Syria in the summer of 2013 and was arrested in Frankfurt in December on his return. German authorities announced on Sept. 12 that they will start prosecuting anyone who tries to recruit for the IS or disseminate its propaganda. Sharia courts are said to be operating in a number of large German cities.
Foreign Minister Steinmeier said Germany would not be participating in airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria, and also said his country had not been asked to do so. The Interior Ministry reportedly has "imminent" plans to ban the Islamic State, which has attacked Yazidis in Herford and an asylum home in Berlin-Marie Felde and conducted other activities in Germany also. A government study of German jihadists found that 60 percent are German-born, about 20 percent are converts to Islam, 11 percent are women, most were radicalized in Salafist mosques, and about a third have returned to Germany.
Authorities arrested Steven N., 26, Abdullah W., 28, and Abdulsalam W., 23., all German nationals, at Hamburg airport on Sept. 6 on suspicion of membership in Shabaab; they had just arrived from Mombasa in Kenya. Two more Islamist terror suspects were arrested in Simbach am Inn while on their way to Syria; and two German Islamists suspected of Shabaab membership were recently arrested in Kenya. The trial of four Salafists accused of planning a failed bomb attack on the Bonn train station in December 2012 began yesterday; the suspects -- Marco G.; Enea B., a former member of an Albanian anti-terror police unit; and Koray D. and Tayfun S., both of Turkish origin -- also planned to bomb leaders of an anti-Islamist party.
Police in Wuppertal arrested 11 members of the "Sharia Police" earlier this week who had been telling people at drinking and gambling establishments to refrain from activity that violates Islam. Police said that local Salafists had been attempting to recruit young people.
Chancellor Merkel warned that the Islamic State now controls an area half the size of Germany, and said the terror group is causing "the far-reaching destabilization of an entire region [which] affects Germany and Europe." Defending Germany's decision to send arms to Kurdish fighters in Iraq battling the Islamic State, she also said the more than 400 Germans who have joined the ranks of the IS present a direct threat to Germany. Some 20 former German soldiers are known to have joined jihadist groups in Iraq and Syria. The head of Germany's domestic intelligence agency said the Islamic State's brutality has made it "much more attractive" to radicalized German Muslims than the Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda's branch in Syria.
The public prosecutor is investigating Abu Bilal Ismail, a Danish imam from the Grimhøj mosque in Aarhus, after he recently told worshipers at the Al Nusrah mosque in Berlin that they should kill Jews "to the very last one" and "[m]ake them suffer terribly." Ismail has also encouraged Danes to travel to Syria for jihad. Pierre Vogel, a Salafist preacher and former boxer, has moved to Hamburg, where officials say there are about 240 Salafists, of whom some 70 support violent extremism.
The Interior Ministry said authorities have stepped up security at airports after a request by the US triggered by fresh concerns that al Qaeda may be trying to smuggle bombs on board airliners to the US. The head of Germany's domestic intelligence agency has warned that Islamist terrorism has become the number one threat to Germany, and noted that over 320 German Islamists have traveled to Syria for jihad; he also said the number of Salafists in Germany has risen from 4,500 in 2012 to about 6,000.