German police raid properties of Hamas-linked Islamist network

German police have searched the facilities of a nationwide Islamist network in nine federal states, the Federal Ministry of the Interior announced here on Wednesday.

Around 90 properties were raided in the German federal states of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, Hamburg, Hesse, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Schleswig-Holstein.

The raids targeted the associations WorldWide Resistance-Help (WWR-Help) and Ansaar International, according to the ministry.

The Ministry’s investigations were based on the allegation that “the organizations belong to the extremist community” and could be providing the radical Islamic Hamas with “financial and propaganda support.”

“Those who support Hamas under the guise of humanitarian aid disregard fundamental value decisions of our constitution,” said Interior Minister Horst Seehofer.

Such behavior discredited the “dedication of the many aid organizations that have committed themselves to neutrality under difficult conditions,” added Seehofer.

The United States, Israel and the European Union have classified Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, as a terrorist organization.

The Ministry noted that on its website WWR-Help calls “for donations for those in need in the Gaza Strip.” In the past, Ansaar International had also collected donations for relief operations in Somalia, Syria and Myanmar, among others.

According to a 2017 report by the North Rhine-Westphalian Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the associations have had “intensive contact.”

Ansaar also had “intensive cooperation with other persons of the extremist Salafist scene,” according to the report.

The Office for the Protection of the Constitution noted that “there are now some overlaps” between Ansaar and the now banned association “Die Wahre Religion”, also known as “Lies! Stiftung,” indicating that Ansaar had filled a vacuum in the extremist scene created by the ban.

In 2017, the Interior Ministry banned “Die Wahre Religion” because it was found to be “directed against the constitutional order as well as against the idea of international understanding.”