Germany Deports Radical Long Sought by Turks

BERLIN, Oct. 12 – The German police arrested an Islamic radical on Tuesday and deported him to Turkey, which has sought his extradition for years in connection with a failed terrorist attack.

The police arrested the man, a Turk named Metin Kaplan, at an Internet cafe in Cologne, took him straight to an airport in nearby Düsseldorf and put him on a plane early Tuesday evening, a spokeswoman at the Foreign Affairs Office said.

Mr. Kaplan, known as the Caliph of Cologne, was the founder and chief leader of an organization, known as the Caliphate, which was based in Cologne and was banned by the German government after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The Turkish government has named him as the leader of a 1998 plot to fly an explosives-laden airplane into the mausoleum of Ataturk, the founder of modern, secular Turkey, during a ceremony at which most of the country’s top leaders would have been present.

Islam / Islamism

Islamism is a totalitarian ideology adhered to by Muslim extremists (e.g. the Taliban, Wahhabis, Hamas and Osama bin Laden). It is considered to be a distortion of Islam. Many Islamists engage in terrorism in pursuit of their goals.

Adherents of Islam are called “Muslims.” The term “Arab” describes an ethnic or cultural identity. Not all Arabs are Muslims, and not all Muslims are Arabs. The terms are not interchangeable.

But Mr. Kaplan, who had served four years in prison in Germany for his involvement in the 1997 murder of a rival Muslim cleric, managed to avoid deportation for several years, in large part by appealing to German concerns that he would be tortured in Turkey and subject to the death penalty there.

In May, however, a German court ruled that he could be deported because the Turkish government had given assurances to the German Interior Ministry that Mr. Kaplan’s rights would be respected.

Mr. Kaplan was given two months to appeal the decision, and when a court in Cologne reaffirmed Tuesday that he was eligible for extradition he was immediately arrested and sent away.

“The court said we could deport him, so we did it,” said the spokeswoman for the Foreign Office, Inge Schürmann.

Mr. Kaplan’s deportation was the latest element in Germany’s efforts to curb the activities of extremist Islamic organizations, although actual deportations have been rare. His organization, which was once believed to have about 12,000 members in Germany, was one of the first groups banned after the Sept. 11 attacks, which were carried out by members of an Islamic group that had lived quietly in Hamburg for several years.

Before Sept. 11, German law had exempted religious organizations from the country’s laws forbidding incitement to racial hatred, but the new law removed that protection. That enabled Germany’s interior minister to ban the activities of groups like Mr. Kaplan’s and several others. When he imposed the ban in December 2001, the minister, Otto Schily, cited the organization’s anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli declarations.

Souad Mekhennet contributed reporting from Frankfurt for this article.

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New York Times, USA
Oct. 13, 2004
Richard Bernstein

Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday October 13, 2004.
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