June 22, 2018 | The Jerusalem Post

Exclusive: German Islamic Center Raises Money for Hezbollah

The Al-Mustafa community center in the city-state of Bremen in northern Germany is a major hub for raising funds for the EU and US designated terrorist organization Hezbollah in Lebanon, according to a German intelligence report reviewed by The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

The Bremen intelligence agency's newly released report in June stated that the “The Al-Mustafa Community center supports Hezbollah in Lebanon, especially by collecting donations.”

The Post uncovered the Shi'ite organization's bank account–the Bremen-based Sparkasse. The Bremen intelligence agency (the rough equivalent to Shin Bet) said there are approximately 60 Hezbollah supporters in the Al-Mustafa organization and “the Arab-Shi'ite association functions as a point of contact for Shi'ite Muslims in Bremen,especially those from Lebanon.”

The intelligence document did not cite the amount of funds transferred from Hezbollah supporters in Bremen to Hezbollah in Lebanon. It is unclear if Germany is currently engaged in anti-terror finance covering Hezbollah funding streams in Bremen and Germany-wide.

“The participation numbers vary strongly according to events [at the Al-Mustafa center], but could total 800 people,”wrote the intelligence officials on the organizational structure of the center. The Al-Mustafa website shows pictures of its school rooms and spacious event rooms. One photograph posted on the Al-Mustafa website shows at least 10 young children wearing Hezbollah combat-style attire in the green and yellow colors associated with the Lebanese militia.The flag of Hezbollah depicts the green logo on a yellow background with an upraised arm grasping an AK-47 assault rifle.

The intelligence report noted the “Al-Mustafa center's support of Hezbollah is of important meaning by its collection of donations in connection with the Lebanon Orphan Children Project (Waisenkinderprojekt Libanon e.V.)” The German court system affirmed the government's shut down of the Lebanon Orphan Children Project formally in 2015 because of its “goal to finance the surviving dependents of deceased Hezbollah fighters.” Germany's interior minister banned the project in 2014.
In addition to the US, Canada, the Arab League, the Netherlands, and Israel classify Hezbollah a terrorist organization. Germany and the EU merely designated Hezbollah's so-called military wing a terrorist entity

Roughly 950 Hezbollah operatives raise funds in Germany for Hezbollah and recruit new members, according to German intelligence reports from 2017. The Bremen intelligence report said additional activities of the Al-Mustafa center involve participation in events and demonstrations. According to the report, “like every year  sympathizers and supporters of Hezbollah across Germany participated publicly in the anti-Israel demonstration for the international Quds Day on June 23, 2017 in Berlin. Participants from Bremen also regularly participate in the al-Quds Day.”

The founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, inaugurated in 1979 the Quds Day as a worldwide demonstration to call for the destruction of  the  Jewish state. The Berlin al-Quds Day demonstration is also a hot spot for advocates of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign targeting Israel.  Bremen is a stronghold of BDS activists and the mayor of the city,Carsten Sieling, has not followed the lead of mayors in Munich, Berlin, Frankfurt who have banned municipal space and funds to BDS groups.

Iran's funds its chief middle east ally Hezbollah with $700 million each year. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said after meeting Jordan's King Abdullah in Amman on Thursday: “Iran’s aggressive tendencies must not only be discussed, but rather we need solutions urgently.” She declined to say if she will take action against Hezbollah in Germany or label Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp a terrorist organzation. The US administration classified the IRGC a terrorist organization in October. Canada's House of Commons urged last week the Liberal goverment of Prime Minister  Justin  Trudeau to proscribe the IRGC as a full-blown terrorist organization.The US government has repeatedly urged the Merkel administration to ban all of Hezbollah in Germany.Canada's parliament also urged the government in its resolution to not re-establish diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, said last week: “In a meeting last week with a senior delegation from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Grenell said: “Here in Germany, I have asked the German government to support our efforts to stop an airline called Mahan Air from utilizing German airspace and airports. We know that Mahan Air has been used by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps [IRGC] as a mode of transport for weapons, resources and fighters, so we’re asking our allies to help us put a stop to it.”

Benjamin Weinthal reports on human rights in the Middle East and is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow him on Twitter @BenWeinthal.

Follow the Foundation for Defense of Democracies on Twitter @FDD. FDD is a Washington-based nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.