Islamist foundation of a Muslim ex-professional soccer player banned in Germany for terror financing

The Federal Ministry of the Interior has banned the Salafist association Ansaar International and nine of its offshoots. Among them are organisations from Hesse, and a former professional football player is again under scrutiny.

On Wednesday, the Federal Ministry of the Interior banned the Salafist association Ansaar International and its nine offshoots. Among them is the Somali Committee for Information and Counselling based in Büttelborn (Groß-Gerau district).

The associations allegedly collected humanitarian donations and used them to support Islamist terrorist organisations in the Middle East and Africa. They include the Al-Nusra Front in Syria, which now operates under a different name, as well as Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Al-Shabaab in Somalia.

According to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, there had been direct money flows in some cases, and in others projects had been financed in the surroundings of the organisations so that the terrorist organisations could recruit members. The donors are said to have been unaware of this. According to the Ministry of the Interior, Ansaar also missionised children from Germany and sent them to institutions abroad “in order to internalise Salafist extremist content there and spread it in Germany”.

Ansaar already made the headlines in 2017, when the public broadcaster Hessischer Rundfunk reported that the former Eintracht Frankfurt and Darmstadt 98 player Änis Ben-Hatira supported the Salafist association. After much hesitation, his then club Darmstadt 98 gave in to pressure from the public and politics and parted ways with the footballer.

Ben-Hatira then established a foundation in Berlin that also cooperates with Ansaar. This was also banned on Wednesday. Its money was confiscated and made available for charitable purposes – excluding terror financing.

Hesse’s Interior Minister Peter Beuth ( Christian Democratic Union, CDU) called the ban of Ansaar International a “strong message of the rule of law against Islamist terrorist structures”. Hesse had warned of the activities of the Salafist group at an early stage. German football and the state of Hesse had “rightly shown Ben-Hatira the red card”, Beuth said on Wednesday.

Investigators had already seized extensive evidence in a major raid on the network in April 2019. Ansaar has its headquarters in Düsseldorf. Half of the 90 properties searched at the time were in North Rhine-Westphalia.

https://www.hessenschau.de/panorama/salafisten-verein-samt-fussballer-stiftung-verboten,ansaar-verboten-100.html

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