(iexclusivenews) – On Thursday, German police conducted a massive operation against a Hamburg-based organization that is accused of promoting the Iranian leadership’s ideology and possibly supporting activities of Hezbollah in Germany.
The Islamic Center Hamburg (IZH) and five other groups suspected of being its sub-organizations were targeted in 54 locations across the country.
However, the government said the investigation is aimed at protecting Germany’s constitutional order and preventing antisemitic and anti-Israel agitation.
IZH: A Threat to Germany’s Democracy and Security
The IZH is a religious and cultural organization that runs a mosque in Hamburg. According to the Interior Ministry, the IZH has long been under observation by Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV).
The BfV considers the IZH as a “central institution of the Iranian regime in Germany” that spreads the “revolutionary concept” of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
This concept is suspected of violating Germany’s constitutional order, which is based on democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
The Interior Ministry also said that the IZH supports banned activities in Germany by Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah militant group, which is designated as a terrorist organization by the European Union, the United States and several other countries.
Hezbollah has repeatedly traded fire with Israel across the Israel-Lebanon border since Hamas attacked Israel from Gaza last month.
The IZH and its affiliated groups often espouse a “clearly antisemitic and anti-Israel attitude”, the ministry said.
It said authorities are examining whether the IZH can be banned, and material seized during the searches will be evaluated.
“Our measures show that we have the Islamist scene in our sights,” Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said in Berlin. “I want to say very clearly that we are acting against Islamist extremism; we are not acting against a religion or another state.”
“But it is just as clear that we don’t tolerate any Islamist propaganda, antisemitic and anti-Israel agitation here,” she added.
Hezbollah: A Global Menace with Local Networks
The IZH is not the only group in Germany that is linked to Hezbollah. The German federal prosecutor’s office said separately that about 20 locations in the Hannover region were searched on Thursday by German police in an investigation of five alleged members of Hezbollah who are accused of taking leading roles in two local groups steered by the militant organization.
They are being investigated on suspicion of membership in a foreign terrorist organization, prosecutors said. There were no arrests.
Hezbollah is a Shiite Islamist political and military movement that was founded in Lebanon in the 1980s with the support of Iran.
It has a strong presence in Lebanon, where it participates in the government and operates a social welfare network.
However, Hezbollah also has a regional and global reach, with armed wings, political branches and fundraising networks in several countries.
Hezbollah is involved in conflicts and terrorist activities in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Bahrain and elsewhere.
It is also accused of plotting and carrying out attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets around the world, including in Argentina, Bulgaria, Cyprus and Thailand.
It is believed to have thousands of rockets and missiles that can reach deep into Israel.
Germany has been a hub for Hezbollah’s activities in Europe, with an estimated 1,050 members and supporters in the country.
They are involved in propaganda, recruitment, fundraising and procurement for the group. They also maintain contact with the IZH and other Iranian-backed organizations.
Germany’s Response: A Ban on Hamas and a Possible Ban on IZH
Germany has taken steps to curb the influence and activities of Hezbollah and other Islamist groups in the country. On Nov. 2, Faeser implemented a formal ban on activity by or in support of Hamas and dissolved Samidoun, a group that was behind a celebration in Berlin of Hamas’ attack on Israel, following up on a pledge made by Chancellor Olaf Scholz shortly after the attack.
Hamas is a Palestinian Islamist movement that controls the Gaza Strip and is also designated as a terrorist organization by the European Union, the United States and several other countries.
It has been engaged in a long-running conflict with Israel, launching rockets and incendiary balloons into Israeli territory and digging tunnels under the border.
It also opposes the peace agreements between Israel and some Arab countries.
The ban on Hamas and Samidoun was welcomed by Israel and Jewish groups, who praised Germany for its “clear stance” against terrorism and antisemitism. They also urged Germany to ban the IZH and other Iranian-backed organizations.
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