AP, Sep. 19, 2002
By MELISSA EDDY : Associated Press Writer
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — German authorities were studying papers, videos and CDs seized from 16 Islamic groups linked to a jailed Turkish militant that were shut down Thursday in the country’s latest effort to crack down on extreme religious organizations.
Police raided 100 homes and offices across Germany in the action, which follows the banning last December of the Caliphate State group run by Turkish militant Muhammed Metin Kaplin, Interior Minister Otto Schily told reporters at Frankfurt Airport. No one was arrested.
The raids are part of efforts by German authorities to move against radical religious groups suspected of supporting terrorism under laws that came into effect after the Sept. 11 attacks, which were plotted by
“We believe such organizations contribute to a climate that certainly doesn’t discourage terror attacks,” Schily said.
For years, the Cologne-based Caliphate State, which openly calls for the overthrow of Turkey’s secular government and its replacement with an Islamic state, had been under observation by German authorities but strict laws protecting religious groups prevented them from acting.
The group was also banned because of its anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli rhetoric and for its efforts to build up its own taxation and legal systems. Germany has strict rules against the promotion of racial hatred.
Kaplan is serving four years for incitement in the killing of a rival cleric in Berlin in 1997.
He is wanted in Turkey on charges of treason. Authorities there allege he masterminded a failed 1998 attempt to crash a plane loaded with explosives into the mausoleum of Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
Schily said he would do everything possible to see that Kaplan is extradited to Turkey upon his release from prison, which is expected in March. The Turkish Parliament recently abolished the death penalty, removing a major obstacle to his extradition.
Last month, German authorities shut down two branches of the Arab charity Al-Aqsa, accused of collecting money for the militant Palestinian organization Hamas.
Germany was one of a number of European countries to hand authorities new powers to combat terrorism after Sept. 11.
In Britain Thursday, an unemployed computer programmer charged with possessing books and documents that could be used to plan a terrorist attack remained in custody after a brief court appearance.
Muhammed Abdulah Azam, 32, was arrested under anti-terror laws enacted in Britain last year and accused of collecting books and documents outlining how to make bombs and weapons.
Also in Britain, Scotland Yard said Thursday it is questioning six men arrested in London under the Terrorism Act, but gave no details of the nature of the investigation.
Police sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the arrests were not directly linked to the Sept. 11 attacks. The British news agency Press Association said without attribution that the six were suspected of being fundraisers for Islamic terrorists.
The arrests followed a joint operation by the police Anti-Terrorist Branch and MI5, the internal security agency. Residences and two storage units in London were being searched, police said.
The six men were arrested Wednesday at residential addresses, police said.
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