Nazism to 'Salafism': Islamists Threaten Germany

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MUNICH - From Nazism to communism, Germany has seen its share of radical ideologies over the years. Now the nation faces a new threat: Salafism.

It's an extreme brand of Islam that preaches hatred of Christians and Jews. As CBN News discovered recently, Salafism is growing in Western Europe's most populous country.

The Salafist Movement

In June, 1,000 police fanned out across Germany. They targeted the homes, schools, and mosques of Salafi Muslims.

Salafis model themselves after Islam's prophet, Mohammed, and his followers and strictly follow Islamic sharia law.

Their ideology encourages violent jihad and is shared by al Qaeda and many other Islamic terror groups. It's now taking hold among a small but growing number of Germany's 4.3 million Muslims.

"We have a really dynamic growing Salafi scene," German journalist Franz Feyder said. "Some of the security officers tell us that we have about 5,000 Salafis in Germany."

Feyder follows Germany's Salafi scene closely.

"The Salafi movement in Germany is creating an environment for violence and radicalization," he told CBN News. "Not every Salafist is a terrorist, but every terrorist is a Salafist."

That includes the gunman who murdered two U.S. soldiers and injured two more in an attack in Frankfurt last year, not to mention dozens of other German Muslims that have been arrested on terrorism charges since 9/11.

Still more have left Germany to wage jihad abroad.

"We can see is that a lot of jihadis with Salafist backgrounds are going to Afghanistan and to training camps, to Pakistan into training camps," Feyder said.

"And what we can see as well is that a lot of jihadis are passing through the Horn of Africa," he continued. "And they're going to fight in Somalia, going to fight in Yemen, going to fight in Kenya."

A 'Peaceful' Salafi?

Sheikh Abu Adam runs the Darul Quran Mosque in Munich. He dislikes the term Salafi and said he's simply a Muslim.

German authorities believe he's much more than that. They've visited his mosque to investigate.

In an exclusive interview in his Munich apartment, the sheikh showed CBN News government documents that he said identify him as a radical Salafi and anti-Semite. He denies the charges and said he's worked with the German government to fight extremism.

"Why are they saying that about your mosque?" CBN News asked Adam. "Why would the Bavarian government say that?"

"I don't know," he replied. "Myself? I don't know. All of my students, all - I don't have any exception - they are fighting against terrorism and they are very integrated in the society. All of them are very kind, loving people. They laugh. They communicate with all people."

The Egyptian native said he travels to Pakistan and other hotspots to preach against terrorism and debate jihadists.

He's been targeted with death threats and his bodyguards were present for our interview.

"I try to convince them to leave jihad, to leave radicalism, to leave bomb attacks," he told CBN News.

Although the sheikh, his 10 children, and three wives receive welfare benefits, he told CBN News he wants to leave Bavaria.

"So you no longer have any communication with the German government?" CBN News asked.

"I'm sacrificing myself and my family and my scholars because of you and then you write that I am radicalized? I'm fighting against the terrorists," Adam replied.

Anti-Violence Except at Home?

Yet the sheikh has engaged in violence of his own.

In 2010, he made international headlines when he was accused of brutally beating one of his wives, breaking her nose and shoulder.

He reportedly yelled Koranic verses during the attack and refused to let police enter the apartment. The wife would not press charges.

Also last year, a German television crew filmed Adam presiding over sharia courts in his mosque that operate outside of German law.

"The Salafi people, they tell the truth," counter-jihad activist Michael Sturzenberger said. "They say, 'We want to have Sharia law in Germany, we want to have a caliphate.'"

Sturzenberger hopes to rally Germans against this movement. He called a recent drive by a Salafi imam to place a Koran in every German home a much-needed wakeup call. 

"They want to spread this message all over Germany, and they printed 300,000, and they gave it for nothing," Sturzeberger told CBN News.

"They gave it in every city in Germany to the people, the message of Allah, and they want to Islamize Germany," he said.

Authorities also fear the growing Salafi presence will not only make Germany an even more attractive al Qaeda target, but an exporter of terror as well.

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Erick Stakelbeck

Erick Stakelbeck

CBN News Correspondent

Erick Stakelbeck is a sought after authority on terrorism and national security issues with extensive experience in television, radio, and print media. Stakelbeck is a correspondent and terrorism analyst for CBN News.  Follow Erick on Twitter @Staks33.