06:43 GMT +326 April 2018
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    German Islamist Pierre Vogel, also known as Abu Hamza, with his followers

    'Unbroken' Ideology: How Radical Islamist Networks Survive in Germany

    © AFP 2018 / ULI DECK / DPA
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    Dozens of lawsuits were filed against radical Salafists in Germany's federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) between November 2016 and July 2017 alone.

    Prayer clubs were banned, preachers — imprisoned, and police — reinforced, but this has failed to prevent further spread of the radical ideology, German newspaper Die Welt reported.

    The number of radical Salafists in Germany has been steadily increasing over the past few years, according to reports.

    The figures in the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia alone stood at 1,000 in 2012 and 3,000 by the end of 2017; 700 of the Salafists are regarded as being open to violence.

    READ MORE: Germany's Top Court Repeals Acquittals of 'Sharia Police' Members

    Although the growth of their networks has recently slowed down, NRW's authorities stated that "the attractiveness of the extremist Salafism particularly for young people" remains "unbroken".

    According to the newspaper, radical networks are flexible and capable of responding to new challenges, which is why they still succeed in recruiting young people in Germany and abroad.

    Extensive Financing and Local Preachers

    The Salafist ideology has little to do with migrants. Only 3% of the newcomers can be associated with this branch of Islam, the article said.

    The main threat is posed by local radical preachers. According to the newspaper, there are over 70 of them in NRW alone, and they are efficient at recruiting more and more people into their ranks.

    In addition, extremist groups remain active because of extensive financing.

    For many years, intelligence agencies have warned that organized fundraisers and criminals raise millions of euros for the Salafist and jihadist communities.

    Terrorist financiers also generate millions in fraud and money laundering.

    Recruitment of Women and Children

    While many male members of the radical groups are serving prison sentences or have joined jihadists abroad, Salafists have started to increasingly mobilize women. Intelligence agencies are aware of the so-called "sister networks", whose members, among other things, promote radical Islam online.

    Officially, these women are engaged in seemingly harmless activities like trade with cosmetics and clothing; or they give beauty tips and recommend Islamic wellness products in forums and online chats.

    READ MORE: Daesh Has Own Travel Agencies in Europe, Analyst Says

    But behind all this could be an attempt to radicalize Muslim women, reports say. There are also suggestions that some of these activists have ties to jihadists.
    Children have also increasingly become the target of Salafists. Hundreds of kids are being raised by radical Islamist parents, and might pose a serious security threat for the German community in the future, the newspaper wrote.

    Germany has been on a high alert over the rise of radical ideology on its soil amid a series of terrorist attacks across Europe, including an attack at a Christmas market in Berlin last year, when Daesh member Anis Amri stole a truck and drove it into a crowd, killing 12 people and injuring 48 others.

    In 2017, a total of 1,200 terror-related cases were opened, with some 1,000 of them linked to Islamism. By contrast, in 2016, Germany's Public Prosecutor General opened only 250 terror-related cases, with some 200 of them dealing with Islamism.

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    Tags:
    terrorism, religion, radical ideas, Salafists, Islamism, Germany
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