‘Gov't-supported ISIS sleeper cells exist in Germany for regime change in Syria’

A police officer walks in front of the Sikh temple in Essen, western German where an explosion took place at a wedding on April 16, 2016. © Marcel Kusch
ISIS cells are also used for other activities, including destabilizing the Middle East and even linked to events of Islamist fundamentalists against Russia. So, the picture is regarding these cells is much more complex, Michael Opperskalski, expert on international affairs, told RT.

An attack on a Sikh temple in Germany earlier this month, was carried out by Islamic State sympathizers. That's the conclusion of an investigation into the blast in the city of Essen.

In March, Islamic State reportedly issued an online call to German Muslims to carry out a Brussels-style attack in Germany. Chancellor Merkel's offices and Cologne-Bonn airport were singled out as the main targets.

RT: Fears over ISIS sleeper cells in Europe have been voiced by many. Top US intelligence official, James Clapper, recently issued a warning. How much of a threat are they?

Michael Opperskalski: First of all, I think we have to be very, very precise here. They are sleeper cells. And the minority of sleeper cells are belonging to the so-called ISIS. Others belong to other so-called Islamist groups. And some of them are supported by the German government, if you talk about Germany because they are aimed for regime change in Syria, toppling the Syrian government, or they are used for other activities - destabilizing the Middle East and even some of them are linked to events of Islamist fundamentalists against Russia. So, the picture is much more complex, but it is correct, you have so-called Islamic State sleeper cells in Germany and this is not a new phenomenon. And Northland Westphalia is one of their main regions.

RT: Going back to the Essen attack where two German teenagers are being called Islamic State sympathizer. Are you surprised the story's not receiving more coverage?

MO: No, I am not surprised at all because if it would really get serious coverage, and the stories would go into details about the background of recruiting people here in Germany, sending messages to the bosses who are, for example, in Turkey, and their logistical networks. If these things would be covered by the media, it would expose the role of the state in Germany as – if I may be diplomatic - hypocrite.

RT: Why has it taken two weeks for the news to emerge that these teens are linked to ISIS?

MO: There is one reason because this is exactly showing how hypocritical the whole scenario is. But the other thing is that there are many others going on in order to find sleeper cells and connections among different sleeper cells. But a lot of these guys were later released because they were simply innocent. So, they are pressurizing to get some results… some of the police structures really tried to get results. But the state and the state security organs, they stopped a serious investigation and serious move against these forces because the state is obviously not so much interested in doing so.

RT: Does it surprise you that youngsters in Germany are becoming radicalized?

MO: It is getting a big problem, it is becoming more problematic since the other groups, the other so-called Islamist groups apart from Islamic State it was a very big thing in the past, they are getting more popular now.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.