Over 800 officers have busted an Islamic biker gang in Germany despite claims they are acting as a vigilante group to tackle problems in migrant communities including exploitation of women and sectarianism.
Special SWAT units and over 800 cops reportedly raided 49 homes and offices in cities across the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
According to local media, the raids targeted an Islamic biker gang called ‘Al-Salam 313’ (‘Peace 313’ in Arabic), which refers to a messiah who would arrive on Earth with 313 companions.
The gang, which mainly formed of Shia Muslims from Iraq, is suspected of drugs offences, smuggling and violations against the German weapons control act.
One suspect has been arrested and 34 others are currently under investigation.
According to local media, the cops also impounded evidence such as a five digit sum of counterfeit cash.
Al-Salam 313 has been active in Europe for five or six years, with an estimated membership said to be in the hundreds.
According to local media, it is seen as an arm of the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr whose death squads used to hunt down Sunni Muslims and US soldiers in Iraq.
Al-Sadr’s militias were reportedly reactivated in 2014 for the battle against ISIS and used a peace dove as their insignia, similar to the logo currently used by the Al-Salam biker gang.
A police investigator said: “Many of them have war and battle experience and have killed during the Iraqi civil war. They are trained with weapons and explosives.”
According to the biker gangs’ own account, they are more akin to a vigilante group.
In a promotional video, the gang’s founder and ‘world president’ Mohammed Bunia, nicknamed Abu Mehdi, said that their “sons are many” and “are committed gang members”.
Mehdi added: “The group formed shortly after several Iraqis migrated to Europe in 2015. That’s when it all began, as did the blackmail and other problems.”
The group said they want to foster integration of new migrants in Europe and to battle “sectarianism and politics”.
Mehdi said: “Iraqis that fled to Europe have spurred this on, talking politics and insulting Marajeh [branches of Islam]. They are trying to drive a dividing wedge between communities to ignite more problems.
“People here have coexisted for many years. Sunni, Shia and Christians wherever they are. We have no qualms with any human.
“Those that come to Europe must behave. We are strangers in these lands after all. We hope they comply and do not export our home problems into Europe.”
The gang leader also warned asylum seekers who have been “fooling around and exploiting woman”.
He said: “We came by one of these cases recently. We tracked the guy in Hamburg and dealt with him.”
Mehdi added: “Let’s keep things calm. Here in Europe, we are all free. Abandon politics, sectarianism, religion. We stand against this.”