A Berlin mosque attended by the young Muslim who attacked a Christmas market in December has shut its doors and been banned, as authorities raided over 20 properties in the German capital in major crackdown on suspected Islamists.
The mosque on Perleberger Strasse in the Moabit district was banned by Berlin’s State Interior Ministry, after preemptively closing its doors last week. On Tuesday morning, 460 police officers took part in raids on 24 locations across the German capital linked to Fussilet 33, the organization which ran the mosque.
“The cause for these raids is the fact that Berlin’s State Interior Ministry has issued a ban against the ‘Fussilet 33’ organization,” said police spokesman Winfrid Wenzel, Reuters reported.
“These 24 locations are above all apartments but also business addresses of those in charge of this mosque organization. Also, a few cells at Tegel and Moabit prisons have been searched.”
Despite the scale of the operation, no arrests were reported.
The Fussilet mosque has been under surveillance since 2015, suspected of being a recruiting spot for radical Islamists where a number of its visitors – mainly people of Turkish and Caucasus origin – have been radicalized. The mosque is also suspected of fundraising for jihadist extremists in Syria.
The ban on the Fussilet 33 organization, the result of a court order on February 15, means it has formally been disbanded and can longer rent space for or operate any mosques. The mosque’s rental contract has also been canceled and substitute organizations have also been banned.
At a press conference later in the day, Berlin State Interior Minister Andreas Geisel said that any other mosques preaching extremism would not be tolerated.
“Today’s ban is another important step in the fight against Islamic terrorism,” he stated. “Berlin must not be a place for intellectual arsonists. Whoever wants to call for violence in our city, or to support others who do this, must know: We have them in our eyes and will deal with them just as with ‘Fussilet 33’.”
On December 19, Anis Amri, a 24-year-old Tunisian who frequented the mosque, drove a truck into a Christmas market in Berlin killing 12 people and injured dozens more in a deliberate attack claimed by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) .
On January 31, three suspects linked to IS were arrested on suspicion of planning to travel to the Middle East to join the terrorist group. Local media reported that the three men also attended the Fussilet mosque.