German police carry out nationwide raids on Erdoğanist Turkish gang

Hundreds of police officers have taken part in raids across Germany targeting the Osmanen Germania boxing club, an ultranationalist pro-Erdoğan gang that German officials say is involved in violent crime and has ties to the government of autocratic Turkish President Recep Tayyio Erdoğan.

According to a report by Deutsche Welle (DW) on Wednesday, German authorities seized data storage devices, narcotic drugs and weapons in nationwide raids on Tuesday against members of the Osmanen Germania boxing gang. More than 1,000 police officers searched over 60 properties in the states of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Baden-Württemberg and Hesse.

The German Interior Ministry orchestrated the raids, suspecting Osmanen Germania — officially registered as a boxing club — of illegal activities. “Today’s measures show that the federal and state governments will not tolerate criminal activity, regardless of social background,” said outgoing Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere.

Among other things, the Turkish nationalist gang is accused of using violence to expand its power and territorial influence in certain cities as well as violent “self-assertion” against other groups.

“We’re observing the scene very closely and will not allow ourselves to be blinded by these organizations,” said NRW state Interior Minister Herbert Reul. The bulk of the raids took place in cities in the populous western German state, including in Essen, Cologne, Duisburg and Wuppertal.

The goal of Tuesday’s raids was to better understand the group’s structure and activities. Osmanen Germania has 22 local chapters across Germany and around 300 members, many with Turkish roots. Since its founding in 2015, Osmanen Germania has become one of the fastest-growing gang-like groups in the country.

Eight alleged members of the group are currently on trial in Stuttgart for attempted murder, attempted manslaughter, extortion, forced prostitution and pimping.

According to the NRW Interior Ministry, Osmanen Germania also has strong ties to the Erdoğan government and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). The group is known for its Turkish nationalist and right-wing extremist beliefs. It has clashed with Kurdish groups in the past and opposes extreme left-wing Turks and the Gülen movement.  Turkish authorities regard Osmanen Germania as an organization that “combats terrorism,” Reul said.

According to research conducted by investigative news program “Frontal 21” by German public broadcaster ZDF and the Stuttgarter Nachrichten daily and based on leaked German police wiretaps and surveillance records in late 2017, Metin Külünk, a deputy from Turkey’s ruling AKP, directly and indirectly provided funds to Osmanen Germania BC.

Külünk, a close confidant of President Erdoğan, reportedly provided money to the boxing gang to purchase weapons, organize protests and target critics of the Turkish leader, according to Deutsche Welle.

The results of the research suggest a relationship between Osmanen Germania BC and Külünk as well as Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT), AKP European lobbying organisation the UETD and Erdoğan himself, DW reported in December.

Back then, Külünk described these allegations as a plot by followers of the Gülen movement. “None of the activities or visits I made in my personal capacity or on behalf of the AKP were illegal. On the contrary, transparency has always been a priority,” Külünk said.

He said the accusations defaming Erdoğan were typical of FETÖ, a derogatory term coined by the AKP government and Erdoğan to describe the Gülen movement.

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