While New York mayor Michael Bloomberg was energetically defending the Ground Zero mosque, German authorities banned on Monday the Masjid Taiba mosque of Hamburg, which served as the launching pad for the 9/11 terror attacks. Even before it changed its name from al-Quds to Masjid Taiba in 2008, the mosque had long served as a hotbed for training jihadists and stoking anti-Western ideology. According to Christoph Ahlhaus of the Hamburg interior ministry, “Today we closed the Taiba mosque because young men were being turned into religious fanatics there.” He added, “Behind the scenes, a supposed cultural organization shamelessly used the freedoms of our democratic rule of law to promote holy war.”
The move to outlaw the Masjid Taiba mosque is long overdue. As critics have highlighted, Germany has been far too reluctant to clamp down on radical Islam in the Federal Republic. For example, according to Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, the country is home to roughly 900 active Hezbollah members.
In May, the Imam Ali Mosque in Hamburg hosted a conference supportive of the regime of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and in which advocates of revolutionary Islam participated. The mosque’s imam, Ayatollah Reza Ramezani, has used his platform to call for participation in the 2009 al-Quds Day, an anti-Western and anti-Israel hate-fest advocating the “liberation of Jerusalem from the Zionist system.”
Traditionally, German economic interests are prioritized over Western and Israeli security, and Germany’s roughly €4 billion trade relationship with Iran has impeded a crackdown on Iranian-financed terror. That helps to explain why Chancellor Angela Merkel in July resisted the attempts of the U.S., England, and France to shut down the Hamburg-based Iranian bank EIH as part of the new round of EU sanctions. The Wall Street Journal reported that the EIH bank “has done over a billion dollars of business for Iranian companies associated with Iran’s conventional military and ballistic missile procurement programs.”
While the ban of the Masjid Taiba mosque is an important move, it would be a case of excessive optimism to believe that Germany will halt homegrown revolutionary-Islamic terror and nuclear proliferation.
— Benjamin Weinthal is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.