German language media are reporting that the Amena Shakir, the sister of German Muslim Brotherhood leader Ibrahim El-Zayat, is the director of the Akademie für Islamische Religionspädagogik (IRPA) in Vienna, the educational institution responsible for training Austrian Islamic religious teachers. The German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung made the identification in a report about a scholar at the Wilhelms-Universität in Münster who has said that 50% of the Austrian teachers were unqualified for their work and that 20% rejected democracy as a legitimate form of government. Although the IRPA website lists Ms. Shakir only as a teacher, the Austrian MInistry responsible for education lists her as the IRPA director. The IRPA website says that the organization was founded in 1998 as the religious pedagogical academy charged witht raining future teachers of Islam under the Academy Studies Act 1999. Sources in Germany indicate that Ms. Shakir has been affiliated with a number of German Islamic organizations associated with her brother including the Muslimische Jugend Deutschland and the Gesellschaft Muslimischer Sozial und und Geisteswissenschaftler (GMSG), a German organization of Muslim social scientists.
An earlier post reported that Ibrahim El-Zayat was recently replaced as the head of the Islamische Gemeinschaft Deutschland (IGD) considered by the German government to be the representative of the Muslim Brotherhood in Germany. Mr. El-Zayat is also a leader in many other European Muslim Brotherhood organizations including the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE), the umbrella group for the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe. He is married to the sister of Mehmet Sabri Erbakan who is in turn the nephew of Necmettin Erbakan, the leader of Turkish Milli Görüs. Mr. El-Zayat is highly active in managing Milli Gorus properties in Germany and in Holland where a mosque project he was involved with has become embroiled in controversy. He was also formerly the Western European head of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), a Saudi youth organization that U.S. government agencies and officials have said has helped spread Islamic extremism around the world as well as sponsoring terrorism in places such as Bosnia, Israel, and India. A German newspaper has reported on Mr. El-Zayat’s real-estate business, discussing his role as the signatory authority for an entity called European Mosque Construction and Support. In this capacity, he advises more than 600 mosques in Europe, providing project development, insurance, and other services. The report states that he is currently involved with over 50 new and renovated mosque projects. Zayat also provides investment services for wealth Arab investors in the MIddle East who wish to invest “Islamically” in Europe.
A possible reason for Mr. El-Zayat’s decision not to run for re-election as IGD President may be the on-going German law enforcement investigation, in which he is one of a group of individuals tied to the IGD suspected of forming a criminal association and intending to commit a crime by obtaining funds for its “politico-religious and ultimately Islamist goals.” Charges pending may include:
– Fraud in several cases, such as obtaining public funds without the necessary public utility, donations of money collections with unclear fate of the funds, acquisition of property with fraudulent financial structures
– Forgery, false certification
– Money laundering
– Violation of the Banking Act.
The intent of the above activities is believed to be in support of Hamas.
This is not the first time,Mr. El-Zayat has come under suspicion. According to a Wall Street Journal report, in 2002 German federal police launched as investigation into transfers of millions of dollars by Mr. El-Zayat one behalf of WAMY to Balkan charities. The report of the investigation concluded that “The constellation of accounts, money flows and persons indicate that the accounts in Germany of Ibrahim El-Zayat and Ayman Sayed Ahmed Aly were used for carrying out fundamentalist Islamic activities in Europe.” Neither man was charged in the investigation but the Journal notes “When the transfers took place, supporting or being a member in a foreign terrorist organization wasn’t illegal in Germany.”