German police in Berlin raided the homes of several known Islamic extremists on suspicion of involvement in fraudulently claiming Wuhan coronavirus aid benefits.
The raids involved at least five suspects, all of which are said to be hardcore members of the Islamist Salafist community. They are also linked to the radical Fussilet mosque that was also connected to Berlin Christmas market terrorist and Tunisian failed asylum seeker Anis Amri.
He had also been investigated in 2018 by police who believed he was plotting an attack on the Berlin half-marathon.
In total, investigators say that the five suspects defrauded the German government of around €94,000 (£82,100/$102,000). The Attorney General stated on Thursday that the suspects had been “fraudulently requesting and receiving partial emergency corona help for small businesses from Investitionsbank Berlin, even though they were not entitled to such aid payments”.
Salafist Yunis M. is said to have requested money for a hairdresser and sushi restaurant. Another suspect applied for €9,000 (£7,900/$9,800) five times for an internet cafe business and received €14,000 (£12,000/$15,000) from the government.
The investigation into the fraud began with information gained from another case of benefit fraud involving an Islamist hate preacher. Abul Barra and his partner had received €18,000 (£15,700/$19,500) in aid for a shop that had been closed since 2019.
Norbert Cioma, head of the police union in Berlin, praised the cooperation between police and Investitionsbank Berlin (IBB) but also added: “On the other hand, it becomes clear once again that organised crime and terrorism have strong points of contact.”
Benefit fraud is nothing new for radical Islamic extremists across Europe and has been used by many as a tactic to fund their activities.
Last year in Switzerland, radical imam Abu Ramadan was accused of engaging in fraud to the amount of 590,000 Swiss francs (£455,335/$596,700) between 2003 and 2017.
Sweden has had similar problems, particularly with Islamists who left the country to join Islamic State overseas but who were still able to claim welfare benefits from the Swedish state.