Gulf state groups are 'supporting Salafists in Germany': report
Three major German news outlets have reported that religious groups from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar have been increasingly supporting Salafists in Germany, raising concerns among intelligence agencies.
The Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) as well as broadcasters NDR and WDR reported on Tuesday that a report by German intelligence agencies shows an increase in support from religious groups in the three Gulf states to Salafists in Germany.
The media outlets state that these organizations have helped build school facilities, mosques and sent preachers to Germany to share a fundamentalist version of Islam.
SZ reports that Germany’s BND and BfV intelligence agencies are concerned that the intolerant and ultra-conservative form of Islam could spread. Currently they estimate there to be 10,000 members of the Salafist scene, and believe that refugees could also be drawn into it.
In particular, the media reports name the Society of the Revival of Islamic Heritage (RIHS) from Kuwait, the Shaykh Eid Charity Foundation from Qatar and the Muslim World League from Saudi Arabia. The RIHS, for example, was placed by the United States in 2008 on a list that prohibits US citizens from doing business with the organization after the Washington government found that it had been providing financial support to al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda affiliates.
“RIHS has also provided financial support for acts of terrorism,” the US Treasury Department said at the time.
According to the SZ, the RIHS tried to establish a Salafist centre in the southwest state of Baden-Württemberg, but police intervened to stop the 3,300 square-metre construction project, which BfV called a “part of a strategy to proselytize in southern Germany”.
The RIHS has denied connections to violence and terrorism, but did not respond to the German media outlets about their report.
While the BfV notes that there appears to be no distinction made within the RIHS between “proselytizing and jihadist Salafism”, the intelligence agency also notes that there is no evidence that “violent Salafist structures and networks” are being supported.
And though Saudi Arabia insists such groups are independent from its government, the intelligence agencies say that the groups are “closely linked to government agencies in their countries of origin”.