— HLKA (@LKA_Hessen) March 13, 2018
It was reported on 13 March that the German Minister of the Interior, Dr. Thomas de Maizière, is conducting a large criminal investigation into the club Osmanen Germania BC. As the official government press release states, since 6:00 multiple investigations have been started all over Germany, based on the “compelling suspicion, that the purpose and activity of the club Osmanen Germania BC are not in line with criminal law.”
Just to have an idea what the Germans are dealing with, check out one of Osmanen Germania’s music videos above.
The Ministry of the Interior claims of the Osmanen Germania BC that:
“The club describes itself als a boxing club (BC) and pretends to want to get youths ‘of the streets’. In reality, its common goal is a violent expansion of territory and power, as well as projecting its claims against competing biker-gang-type groups. In the past there were repeated incidents of bodily harm and attempted killings, in particular in conflicts with the, since defunct, Kurdish biker-gang-type group ‘Bahoz‘.“
In total, more than 1000 officials conducted investigations in three German states, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Baden-Württemberg and Hessen, searching 60 objects. The searches were unopposed: they resulted in the securing of evidence, some firearms and narcotics, but no arrests were made. Police and the judicial system are, however, still conducting interrogations.
In a separate statement, the Minister of the Interior for Nordrhein-Westfalen, Herbert Reul, said:
“I am pleased, that the Federal Minister is consistent in his actions against criminal biker gangs. In Nordrhein-Westfalen we have a zero-tolerance line for them. My first impression is that the cooperation between the Federal and State level went extremely well in this instance. (…) We are watching the [biker] scene carefully, and will not be taken for a fool by this organisation.“
Nordrhein-Westfalen is home to around half of Osmanen Germania BC‘s 300 members, of which most have Turkish roots. Although the official announcements do not mention this, there are suspicions that Osmanen Germania BC has links to the Turkish government, and is indeed claimed to be the ‘armed branch’ of a larger political-cultural network.
German newspaper Stuttgarter Zeitung and the ZDF investigative television-program Frontal 21 claim to have had access to the results of eavesdropping and tailing operations by German security services. These documents show, that Metin Külünk, Member of Parliament in Turkey for the AKP-party, and a close associate of Erdogan, gave money, or had money given to, leading members of the Osmanen Germania BC. Investigators assume the money was used, amongst other things, to purchase firearms. A sub-machine-gun which was seized in May 2016, is believed to have been ‘boxing club’ property.
The State Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Verfassungsschutz) in Nordrhein-Westfalen says that Osmanen Germania focusses its attention on those who are critical of Turkey, or closely related to the Kurdish case. Burkhard Freier, head of the Office said in an interview with ZDF:
“against all these [targets], the Osmanen Germania are organising a threat of force.“
A thought shared with his colleague from the Hessian State Criminal Police (LKA), Sabine Thurau, who says:
“in particular when it comes to identifying potential dangers, we have had to conclude, that this biker-gang group is strongly, and increasingly, characterised as Turkish-nationalist.“
Part of a wider Turkish attempt to influence German politics, Külünk used his links with Osmanen Germania BC as a sort of para-military force, calling on them in phone conversations to
“‘hit [Kurds] on the head with sticks,’ film it, and to hand those videos to the Turkish state. The videos could then be used ‘as a deterrent’ to use against possible critics of Erdogan.“
German MP for Die Linken, Sevim Dağdelen called the Federal Government to action. According to her, the Turkish network represents a clear and present danger to the free and democratic order in Germany, and she calls for a ban on Osmanen Germania BC. When questioned by Frontal 21, the Federal Ministry of the Interior stressed that when there was a suspicion of
“involvement [by members] in intelligence operations, or attempts at [political] influencing by Turkish state authorities, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution will investigate with vigour.“
It is worth pointing out, that in the official press release, this ‘Turkish angle’ is absent, and replaced by an almost complete stress on the club’s criminal activities. In the words of Dr. De Maizière:
“The present measures show that Federation and States do not suffer criminal activities, regardless of ethnic background. With the measures we show once more, that our rule of law resolutely and consequently combats every form of criminal behaviour.“