Germany on Friday banned the extremist militant group Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS, as the country faces the challenge of stopping hundreds of Germans from joining the group. The move is just one step away from declaring the group a terrorist organization.
The ban will come into effect from 10:00 a.m. GMT (6:00 am EDT) on Friday and will include a prohibition on displaying the group’s symbols and flags in the country, Wall Street Journal reported. Germany has already seen nearly 400 of its nationals and residents answer the Sunni extremist group's call to jihad. Eventually these residents, it is feared, return home to recruit other youth and drum up support for the group. The Islamic State came to the limelight after it took control of vast swathes of territory in northern Syria and Iraq, and gained further notoriety after it released videos last month of the execution of two American journalists.
“More than 100 Islamists have returned. Many frustrated, but others with combat experience. They have learned to hate and kill," Thomas de Maizière, Germany’s interior minister said, according to the Journal, adding: "They are well connected. They have been well trained to fight and are possibly willing to share their knowledge with other supporters and recruit new supporters. We must prevent radical Islamists from bringing their Jihad into our cities."
Last month, Islamic State supporters had attacked a group of Yazidis in the town of Herford, in the country's west. Earlier this month, Germany said it will send thousands of weapons to arm Kurdish soldiers, who are fighting the Islamic State in northwestern Iraq.
Last year, Berlin’s Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the country’s internal intelligence agency, released a report that identified Islamist terrorist groups as a major threat for the country. However, at the time, Islamic State was not the force it has now become and the report had no specific information about the group. The agency also estimated that supporters of Islamic groups in Germany had increased steadily to 43,190 in 2013 from 38,080 in 2011, according to the Journal.
“The move is necessary because the biggest threat to internal security stems from returning IS fighters and because support activities, such as publicly expressing sympathy for IS and recruiting members and collecting money, are putting the internal security of our country at risk—not only that of countries and regions where IS is fighting," Wolfgang Bosbach, head of the lower house of the parliament's interior affairs committee, said according to the Journal.