Story By: Koen Berghuis, Sub Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Golder’s News And Sport
German cops have raided the house of Tunisian international footballer Anis Ben-Hatira in a massive anti-terrorism operation against Islamic extremist groups involving over 800 officers.
Former Hertha Berlin midfielder Ben-Hatira’s flat in the Charlottenburg neighbourhood of the German capital of Berlin was raided yesterday.
According to local media, cops searched his flat as well as his storage space in the building’s basement.
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It was one of the 90 objects raided across nine federal German states by more than 800 police officers.
The focus of the raids were the German-based organisations ‘World-Wide-Resistance-Help’ and ‘Ansaar International’, which according to intelligence services are part of an Islamic extremist network.
The German Interior Ministry said that there is evidence that both organisations support Palestinian terrorist organisation Hamas both financially and by means of propaganda. Hamas has been put on the terrorist list in both the European Union and the United States.
A neighbour of Ben-Hatira, 30, who currently plays football for Hungarian outfit Budapest Honved, said he was surprised by the raid.
The neighbour said: “We were wondering about the raid this morning as our neighbour is very rarely at home.”
Ben-Hatira, who played 70 matches for Hertha Berlin scoring 14 goals, said he was equally surprised by the raid.
The Tunisian midfielder said: “I first learned about it myself from the media. Of course I was very surprised. I find it silly that I am now again being connected with any of the things that I have clearly distanced myself from – any form of radicalisation and terrorism.”
Ben-Hatira was referring to his ties with Ansaar International, which he finances several aid projects for.
His former club Darmstadt even disbanded his contract in January 2017 when Ben-Hatira’s ties to the Salafist organisation first became known, although Ben-Hatira said the organisation has nothing to do with Islamic extremism.
He said: “I have nothing to hide. Everyone is welcome at my home. The next time they can easily wait until I’m again in Berlin. Then I would gladly open the door myself.”