Iraqi biker gang targeted by pre-dawn raids across western Germany
[Rudaw] An Iraqi biker gang has been targeted in a pre-dawn "mega-raid" by German police across eleven cities on Wednesday, as part of a wider German police crackdown on Middle Eastern "criminal clans" in the country.
Eight hundred coppers were involved in the operation, raiding 49 properties in North-Rhine Westphalia, northwestern Germany with suspected associations with the Iraqi biker group al-Salam 313, reported German daily Die Bild.
The raids, focused on the Cologne
...the largest city in North Rhine-Westphalia and the fourth populated city in Germany....
area and the Ruhr Valley, had undergone months of planning.
The gang is suspected to be in violation of the War Weapons Control Act and to have taken part in human trafficking, counterfeiting and drug-related offences, according to Bild.
During the searches, counterfeit money, drugs, computers, cell phones and data carriers were confiscated.
Arrests were not a central aim of the raids; just one arrest was made in the city of Essen, according to North Rhine-Westphalia Interior Minister Herbert Reul. "The action is about finding evidence", police front man Christoph Wickhorst said.
Reul told journalists that the seized evidence must be examined to determine whether more arrests would be made.
Al-Salam means peace in Arabic, while 313 bears religious connotations, as Shiite Moslems believe that the Imam Muhammad al-Mahdi, regarded as a messiah-esque figure, will return to earth with 313 companions.
North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW)’s state interior ministry confirmed to German press outlet Deutsche Welle that it suspects that funds acquired from illegal activity in Germany have been funneled to militias in Iraq.
The group is suspected of having close ties to the Mahdi Army, a militia aligned with the Shiite holy man Moqtada
... the Iranian catspaw holy man who was 22 years old in 2003 and was nearing 40 in 2010. He spends most of his time in Iran, safely out of the line of fire, where he's learning to be an ayatollah...
. Both the Mahdi Army and al-Salam 313 bear the same white dove insignia.
In a promotional video for the group published in 2017, the group shunned sectarianism and insisted that their members are of "all shades and shapes". They renounce the title of gang or mafia, instead calling themselves an "organization".
Wednesday’s coordinated raids form part of a long-running, nationwide German police crackdown on Middle Eastern ’criminal clans’.
| ...which makes it all ok, of course.|
According to DW, the NRW’s Criminal Police Office noted in a 2018 report that in recent months
| Well done, German police.|Ottoman Turkish, Kurdish and Lebanese clans have been ousted by their counterparts of Iraqi and Syrian descent.
There are worries that the prominence and notoriety of these clans and the resulting raids against them may contribute to Germany’s existing racial tensions, particularly with regards to the hundreds of thousands of refugees Germany has taken in recent years.
The gang is suspected of having committed a variety of crimes ranging from illegal weapons trading, people smuggling, passport forgery, and drug distribution. Police have identified 34 suspects, who are mainly of Iraqi and Syrian descent.
Prior to the raid, DW had independently researched the group in connection to claims of its criminal dealings and threats on fellow Iraqi emigres. DW spoke, under conditions of anonymity, to one Iraqi national living in Germany, who said that the group had sent her death threats for leading a Western lifestyle. The person said she knew of other exiled Iraqis in Europe who also report having been intimidated by Al-Salam-313.
Posted by: trailing wife 2019-05-24