23 January 2004
BERLIN – Federal investigators in Germany have linked backers of a proposed mosque in Berlin to Islamic radicals with links to terrorist organizations in the Mideast, officials confirmed Friday.
The enormous mosque, which would accommodate 5,000 worshippers, has financial backing from Ibrahim el-Zayat, head of the Moslem Brotherhood in Germany, according to documents leaked to Berlin news media.
“El Zayat bought two adjoining parcels of land in the German capital for EUR 370,000 in March 2002 on behalf of a company called the European Trust,” said city administrator Heinz Buschkowsky in confirming the reports.
Buschkowsky said city building authorities have given approval for construction to go ahead despite protests from local residents in the Neukoelln district that the huge structure would overwhelm the neighbourhood.
Federal investigators have been looking into links between extremist groups and the Inssan Islamic Community which is nominally in charge of building the mosque.
“We are now able to state categorically that there are links between the community and the Moslem Brotherhood,” one federal investigator, Claus Guggenberger, told Berliner Morgenpost newspaper.
The Moslem Brotherhood, originally founded in Egypt, is believed to have some 1,300 members in Germany. According to investigators, it maintains close links to the Palestinian Hamas along with the Gama Al Islamiah and the Algerian Salvation Front (FIS).
German investigators say they are concerned that the Moslem Brotherhood is attempting to broaden its influence through religious centres in major cities. The Berlin mosque project is said to be one example of that.
The Pflueger Strasse project is one of four large new mosques proposed for the Neukoelln-Kreuzberg district, just south of the government centre of the German capital. Long a neighbourhood in transition, the district has a large mixed-ethnic population with a large number of second- and third-generation Turkish immigrants.
Berlin, a city of more than 3 million, has an estimated 220,000 Moslems. The city’s 70 or so mosques are largely located in renovated shops and warehouses.
The four new mosques mark a radical change in this city with its centuries-old Protestant tradition.
Subject: German news