Germany on Tuesday banned Turkish-nationalist biker gang Osmanen Germania BC (Germania Ottomans), accusing the group of carrying out violent crimes, Deutsche Welle has reported.
According to the report officials believe the gang has ties to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government.
“The club presents a serious danger for individual legally protected rights and for the general public,” the interior ministry said in a statement.
The announcement came as police carried out raids on Osmanen Germania in the states of Rhineland-Palatinate, Baden Württemberg, Bavaria and Hesse. Authorities estimate the group has 300 members across the country.
Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said the ban, which affects 16 club chapters, was part of a state and federal crackdown on organized crime.
“And of course that applies to biker groups like the Osmanen Germania, whose members commit serious offenses,” the minister said.
“Those who flout the rule of law shouldn’t expect any leniency from us.”
Since its founding in 2015, Osmanen Germania has become one of the fastest-growing gangs in the country.
Eight suspected members have been on trial in Stuttgart since March, facing charges that include attempted murder, extortion, drug trafficking, deprivation of liberty and forced prostitution.
The group is believed to have close ties to Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and in the past has advocated Turkish nationalist and extreme right-wing views.
AKP deputy Metin Külünk, a confidant of 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 research by DW suggest a relationship between Osmanen Germania BC and Külünk as well as Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT), the AKP’s European lobbying organization and Erdoğan himself.
Külünk described these allegations at the time as a plot by followers of the Gülen movement, accused by the Turkish government of orchestrating a failed coup in 2016.