Why Germany Closed Radical Mosque

Masjid Taiba was frequented by four of the 9/11 hijackers

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On Monday, German police raided the Taiba mosque in Hamburg and announced it closed. The Taiba mosque was previously known as al-Quds, and was frequented by four of the 9/11 hijackers. Apparently, the name change did not involve a concomitant shift in tone; Hamburg's Interior Minister, according to Time's Tristana Moore, says the mosque was continuing to "[convert] young men ... into religious fanatics." Coming hard on the heels of an American debate (closely followed in Germany) over a moderate Muslim group's proposal of a mosque in the Ground Zero neighborhood in New York, the news is generating significant attention.

  • 'From Germany a Lesson for Mayor Bloomberg,' declares Benjamin Weinthal's headline at National Review. "The move to outlaw the Masjid Taiba mosque is long overdue," he says. Despite being a fan of the closing, he says "it would be a case of excessive optimism to believe that Germany will halt homegrown revolutionary-Islamic terror." As an example of German inaction, he cites Merkel's reluctance to shutter the "Hamburg-based Iranian bank EIH as part of the new round of EU sanctions," despite the bank's reportedly close ties with "Iran's conventional military and ballistic missile procurement programs."
  • Significance of the Move  The closing "helps counter a myth surrounding radical Islam," writes Ian Johnson at Foreign Policy: "the notion that mosques don't matter." Experts and the media often focus on socioeconomics and Internet radicalization, but here was a clear case of a mosque promoting violence, "distributing literature promoting a xenophobic worldview" (Johnson recalls his own visit to the mosque, then known as al-Quds, in 2001) and "[feeding] Muslims a steady diet of militant Islam."  German officials were hesitant to close the mosque originally for fear of driving the radicalization process underground, says Johnson, and this recent twist "likely" shows "Germany has finally realized that the tactic of keeping it open for observation isn't working." Here's the takeaway for Americans:
Currently, the United States is splintered by debates over whether a mosque should be built near the site of the World Trade Center. If there's anything we've learned from al-Quds mosque, it's this: When deciding whether a mosque should exist on public property, simply look at the people involved, figure out what they've done, and look into where the money comes from. Radicals leave a trail, and it really isn't that hard to find it. The hard part is acting when you find the evidence.
  • Well Done  "The decade-long inquiry into the Hamburg mosque," writes New Republic editor-in-chief Marty Peretz, "shows just how scrupulous Western police can be when they are faced with mayhem by religious fanatics."
  • German: 'Should Have Been Shut Much Earlier'  Jörn Lauterbach, writing in Die Welt, says the fact that the mosque remained open for nine years after its involvement in the September 11 attacks is an "unacceptable sign of the weakness of the constitutional state"
  • Muslim Reaction  The Central Board of Muslims in Germany is reported in Die Welt as calling the raid and closing "ill-timed," considering the proximity to the beginning of Ramadan. However, he also "expressed understanding for the move." Meanwhile, Die Welt's Dalia Fahmi examines the widespread coverage of the event in the Arab world, finding most of the articles "matter-of-fact," Many, she notes, refer to the mosque's close ties to violence and radicalism.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.