German police raided 54 locations across the country on Thursday in an investigation of a Hamburg-based center suspected of promoting Iranian ideology and supporting the activities of the Hezbollah terror group, the government said, as Berlin moves to stem a rash of antisemitism amid the Israel-Hamas war.
The Interior Ministry said the Islamic Center Hamburg, or IZH, has long been under observation by Germany’s domestic intelligence agency. It said the activities of the group are aimed at spreading the “revolutionary concept” of Iran’s supreme leader.
“We have the Islamist scene in our sights,” Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said in a statement. “Now in particular, at a time when many Jews feel particularly threatened, we tolerate no Islamist propaganda and no antisemitic and anti-Israel agitation.”
Authorities were also looking into suspicions that the IZH supports banned activities in Germany by Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group, which has repeatedly traded fire with Israel across the border since Hamas’s murderous onslaught last month in southern Israel, in which some 1,200 people were murdered, mostly civilians, and over 240 were kidnapped to Gaza.
The IZH runs a mosque in Hamburg. The Interior Ministry said German intelligence believes it exerts significant influence or full control over some other mosques and groups, and that they often promote a “clearly antisemitic and anti-Israel attitude.” It said authorities were examining whether it can be banned, and that material seized during the searches would be evaluated.
Wednesday’s raids were carried out in Hamburg and six other German states — Baden-Wuerttemberg and Bavaria in the south; Berlin; and Hesse, North-Rhine Westphalia and Lower Saxony in the west and northwest. In addition to IZH, the investigation is also targeting five other groups suspected of being sub-organizations of it.
On November 2, the German interior minister implemented a formal ban on activity by or in support of Hamas and dissolved Samidoun, a group that was behind a celebration of the terror attack’s massacres in Israel, following up on a pledge made by Chancellor Olaf Scholz shortly after the attack.