Germany arrests ‘key ISIS recruiter,’ along with 4 suspected accomplices – media
Five suspected Islamic State recruiters have been arrested in Germany, German media report. The so-called “preacher without face,” a suspected mastermind of the entire recruiting scheme, is one of those detained.
The arrests were made in the German regions of Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia, according to a team of journalists at the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and broadcasters NDR and WDR.
Among the suspects is the so-called “preacher without face,” Ahmad Abdelazziz A (who sometimes calls himself Abu Walaa, and has an app with this name), a 32-year-old Iraqi citizen who has been under investigation since last year over recruiting young Muslims in Germany, and later arranging to send them to Iraq and Syria.
He has been viewed as “the worst” in German security circles, the SZ report stated.
“The five accused formed a pan-regional Salafist-jihadist network, with the accused Ahmad Abdulaziz Abdullah A. taking on the leading role,” a statement from the prosecutors' office said, as cited by AFP.
Turkish national Hasan C. and German-Serb Boban S. were allegedly teaching the recruits Arabic, and Islamist content.
Ahmad Abdulaziz Abdullah A. seemed to have the power to approve the sending of people to Syria and Iraq, while it was the two other men arrested who are suspected of actually implementing the transfer of people: German national Mahmoud O. and Cameroonian Ahmed F. Y.
The German authorities touted the arrests, with the country’s Justice Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) describing the step as “an important blow to the extremist scene in Germany.”
The number of terrorists who infiltrated Germany may be much higher than 500 – the figure announced by Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service – Michael Opperskalski, a journalist and international affairs expert, told RT.
“We are not talking only about ISIL or Daesh, we are talking about Al-Nusra Front, which is a very strong organization here. Kickbacks are going to come and the situation is not clear.”
“Walaa was a very important man, but he is not the most important,” Opperskalski said.
In August, searches were carried out ahead of today’s arrests, including in a mosque in Hildesheimer Nordstadt, viewed as a key radicalization point: about 20 people are thought to have left for Syria after going there.
According to the latest figures provided by the German prosecutor in the case, over 900 people left Germany for Syria and Iraq, according to the SZ.
As the first anniversary of the Paris attacks is nearing, Europe is on high alert over potential attacks: last month, German Police said they foiled an attack on one of Berlin’s airports; in September, French Police said that they had prevented five attacks since the Nice massacre in July.