Police in Münster stormed the Hezbollah-controlled Imam-Mahdi Mosque and its affiliated center because intelligence determined that they are pursuing violations of the constitution.
Sources told The Jerusalem Post in 2019 that pro-Hezbollah terrorism activities were unfolding in the mosque, leading to a Post report that a Hezbollah member declared in the mosque, “We have pledged allegiance to [Ali] Khamenei; we are accused of terrorism and are proud of It.”
Khamenei is Iran’s supreme leader, and Germany banned all Hezbollah activities in 2020. Critics argue that the Federal Republic has moved at a glacial-like pace in shutting down Hezbollah centers and mosques and arresting the Lebanese terrorist organization’s members.
The intelligence agency for North Rhine-Westphalia was not aware of the pro-terrorism statements until the Post published its article.
According to the mass-circulation Bild newspaper, the German authorities on Thursday raided the apartments of two leaders of the association “Fatime Versammlung,” which is affiliated with the Imam-Mahdi Mosque. Police also searched a location in Delmenhorst, where Hezbollah hosts activities.
“The aim of the mission is to convey the ban,” Bild reported police spokesperson Antonia Linnenbrink as saying. “The association’s assets are confiscated. We are also looking for evidence of unconstitutional activities.”
Germany’s most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia, where Münster is located, has long had a serious Hezbollah problem. One German intelligence report examined by the Post in 2019 from the state said that, “for more than 20 years, the Islamic Center (Imam-Mahdi-Zentrum) in Münster has been a platform and meeting place for Hezbollah supporters in North Rhine-Westphalia and western Germany. Other focal points: Essen/Bottrop, Dortmund and Bad Oeynhausen.”
The 363-page intelligence report, which covers threats to the security of North Rhine-Westphalia, referenced Hezbollah 21 times.
German officials have been criticized for their overly cordial relations with Hezbollah centers. For example, the former police chief in Münster, Hajo Kuhlisch, met with representatives of the now-outlawed Imam-Mahdi center and mosque as part of an “exchange.”
According to the most recent North Rhine-Westphalia intelligence report from 2021, the number of Hezbollah members in the state more than doubled, from 115 in 2019 to 250 in 2020.
The Post reported last year that there has been an increase in membership and support of Hezbollah in Germany, according to a report by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the domestic intelligence agency for the German state of Lower Saxony.
The German-language intelligence report, reviewed by the Post in 2021, said the number of supporters and members rose from 1,050 in 2019 to 1,250 in 2020.
There are about 180 Hezbollah members and supporters in the state of Lower Saxony, a rise of 20 members from 160 in 2019.
The state of Baden-Württemberg, where Hezbollah stored ammonium nitrate in 2016, has 75 active Hezbollah members. Israeli intelligence uncovered the storage of the explosive material and notified the German authorities.
Hezbollah terrorists have used ammonium nitrate to plot bomb attacks in Argentina, Britain, Bulgaria, Cyprus and France. The same explosive material destroyed the Beirut Port in August 2020, killing 218 people, wounding more than 7,000 others and leaving an estimated 300,000 people homeless, as well as causing more than $15 billion in property damage.
The US, UK, Israel, Canada, Japan, the Arab League and many Latin American and EU countries have classified Hezbollah’s entire organization a terrorist entity.
The European Union itself and France reject designating Hezbollah’s movement a terrorist operation. The EU has merely outlawed Hezbollah’s so-called military wing while permitting its political wing to raise funds, recruit new members and spread its ideology.