DITIB imams working as agents, says former German intelligence chief

The former chief of Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) said Turkish imams with the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB), one of Germany’s largest Islamic organisations, are working for Turkish intelligence.

“They were known to be engaged in intelligence activity and to send the information they gathered to Turkish authorities,” Hans Georg Maasen told German news outlet Focus Online.

Set up in 1984 as a branch of Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), DITIB funds around 900 mosques in Germany and boasts a membership of around 800,000. While DITIB says it is not officially linked to the Turkish state, it has in the past been accused of spying for Turkey on German citizens, resulting in a temporary suspension of federal funding in 2017.

The espionage activities of the Turkish imams constitutes an attack against the sovereignty of the state, the former intelligence chief said, adding, “In my opinion DITIB’s ideological religious point of view doesn’t comply with democratic values, either. As such, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution should monitor this organisation closely. Of course the decision on the matter belongs to the political will.”

German media has kept a close on DITIB, reporting in January on the organisation’s close contacts with alleged leading Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Germany.

Following reports of unconstitutional nationalist and religious activities at the union’s mosques, Germany’s domestic security agency launched an investigation into DITIB in Nov. last year. 

German politicians have also voiced their concerns on the organisation, pointing out the need for DITIB to be independent of Ankara.