Migrant Lives

Salafists In Germany Target Refugees For Recruitment

Arriving in Germany every day, Syrians who have fled civil war are now the targets of the Salafi movement, radical Muslims who include those who espouse Islamis jihad.

Refugees arrive last week in Munich
Refugees arrive last week in Munich
Stefan Laurin

BERLIN â€" Each day trains full of Syrian refugees arrive from southern Europe. They have escaped war, the barrel bombs of Bashar al-Assad's regime and the terror of ISIS. But in Germany, it's not just aid organizations and volunteer humanitarian workers awaiting them. There are also the Salafists, who see them as potential recruits for their fanatical religious convictions.

Pierre Vogel, a German-born convert and Salafi leader living in Bergheim, in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, has published a list of recommendations for the followers within this Sunni Muslim movement specifying the most effective techniques for approaching and recruiting refugees. Vogel advises followers to locate and visit, in groups, all surrounding refugee camps.

He further claims to know how to win over destitute refugees: "Bring gifts," he advises. He also suggests they offer help to the workers at the refugee camps or to meet refugees at nearby mosques.

Vogel is not alone. There are other recruiters too. People have been spotted close to the refugee camps, distributing the Koran. In Hamburg, they have openly contacted refugees in a reception center for asylum seekers.

Though the Salafi movement is actively drafting followers in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, their spreading propaganda around refugee camps is not yet a mass phenomenon.

Their goal is to hinder integration and to religiously radicalize the refugees. State officials say they are taking measures to create awareness and properly inform the staff and residents of refugee camps about Salafism.

"The workers should recognize Salafist behavior, their codes and clothing, and report any suspicious event," one official says. "From what we know, Salafis have, in some individual cases, tried to contact refugees on the pretext of offering help."

The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution has not yet identified a core area for the Salafi publicity campaign, but it has confirmed that Salafist activity has been detected in Dortmund, also in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. That's where the majority of refugees arriving to the state are provided with first aid before being sent to Germany's main cities.

With the number of Muslim refugees on the rise for the foreseeable future, they can expect to be prime targets of these religious fanatics.

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Migrant Lives

The Other Scandal At The Poland-Belarus Border: Where's The UN?

The United Nations, UNICEF, Red Cross and other international humanitarian organizations seems to be trying to reach the Polish-Belarusian border, where Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko is creating a refugee crisis on purpose.

Migrants in Michalowo, Belarus, next to the border with Poland.

Wojciech Czuchnowski

WARSAW — There is no doubt that the refugees crossing the Belarusian border with Poland — and by extension reaching the European Union — were shepherded through by the regime of Alexander Lukashenko. There is more than enough evidence that this is an organized action of the dictator using a network of intermediaries stretching from Africa and the Middle East. But that is not all.

The Belarusian regime has made no secret that its services are guiding refugees to the Polish border, literally pushing them onto (and often, through) the wires.


It can be seen in films made available to the media by... Belarusian border guards and Lukashenko's official information agencies.

Tactics of a strongman

Refugees are not led to the border by "pretend soldiers" in uniforms from a military collectibles store. These are regular formations commanded by state authorities. Their actions violate all rules of peaceful coexistence and humanitarianism to which Belarus has committed itself as a state.

Belarus is dismissed by the "rest of the world" as a hopeless case of a bizarre (although, in the last year, increasingly brutal) dictatorship. But it still formally belongs to a whole range of organizations whose principles it violates every day on the border with Poland.

Indeed, Belarus is a part of the United Nations (it is even listed as a founding state in its declaration), it belongs to the UNICEF, to the International Committee of the Red Cross, and even to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Photo of Polish soldiers setting up a barbed wire fence in the Border Zone near Krynki, Belarus

Polish soldiers set up a barbed wire fence in the Border Zone near Krynki, Belarus

Maciej Luczniewski/ZUMA

Lukashenko would never challenge the Red Cross

Each of these entities has specialized bureaus whose task is to intervene wherever conventions and human rights are violated. Each of these organizations should have sent their observers and representatives to the conflict area long ago — and without asking Belarus for permission. They should be operating on both sides of the border, as their presence would certainly make it more difficult to break the law.

An incomprehensible absence

Neither the leader of Poland's ruling party Jaroslaw Kaczyński nor even Lukashenko would dare to keep the UN, UNICEF, OSCE or the Red Cross out of their countries.

In recent weeks, the services of one UN state (Belarus) have been regularly violating the border of another UN state (Poland). In the nearby forests, children are being pushed around and people are dying. Despite all of this, none of the international organizations seems to be trying to reach the border nor taking any kind of action required by their responsibilities.

Their absence in such a critical time and place is completely incomprehensible, and their lack of action raises questions about the use of international treaties and organizations created to protect them.

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