Germany’s intelligence services have identified an Islamist terrorist network made up of 40 women. Female extremists with hundreds of Facebook followers are increasingly filling the gap left by their imprisoned husbands.
Burkhard Freier, the head of the North Rhine-Westphalian Office for the Protection of the Constitution, told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper that the local female extremist network of “40 sisters” followed a strict Salafist doctrine —informing their advice on everything from raising children to interpreting the religious rules of Islam and stirring up hatred against so-called “non-believers.” The network was active on the internet, determined to proselytize their Salafist ideology (an ultra-conservative interpretation of Islam) aggressively to other would-be members.
“The women are now ideology promoters,” Freier said.
Additionally, the women indoctrinate their own children from an early age. “This makes Salafism a family affair,” and the result, Freier said, could be something “much more difficult to dissolve, namely Salafist pockets within society.”
What’s worse is that these female extremist leaders, some of whom have several hundred Facebook followers, now have a new role in society, feeling accepted and included. “The men have realized that women can network much better and are therefore more capable of expanding the scene and keeping it active,” Freier said.
Although not every Salafist is a terrorist, “every jihadist terrorist we’ve seen in Europe in recent years came from the Salafist scene,” Focus Online reported, citing the official. “There is an increasing number of minor Salafists fantasizing about violence,” he added.
While there has been a drop in the number of jihadists leaving for Syria and Iraq, the number of returnees was on the rise – an increasing number of women among them, Freier said.
German intelligence chief Hans-Georg Maassen said earlier this month that the security services are facing a record number of Islamists.
According to Maassen, the president of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), the number of Islamist sympathizers is at an “an all-time high”. It has gone up from 9,700 to 10,800 over the past year, with the fundamentalists increasingly abandoning radicalization in mosques in favor of “small conspiratorial circles, primarily on the internet,” which is proving a “particular challenge” for the security services. The splitting up of Islamist groups into smaller factions has also made them harder to monitor, Maassen noted.
Salafists follow an ultra-conservative, fundamentalist interpretation of Islam, and Salafist organizations such as Hizb ut-Tahrir are seeking to live under Sharia law, perceiving Western-style democracy as incompatible with obeying God. Their beliefs provide the spiritual basis for groups like Al-Qaeda and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS). The BfV head added that women returning to Germany from Islamist strongholds “had become so radicalized and identify so deeply with IS-ideology that, by all accounts, they must also be identified as jihadis… we have to keep them in our sights.”
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