Right-wing populist groups gather in front of the main railway station in Cologne on Jan. 9 to protest against the New Year's Eve attacks. (Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images)

American conservatives are claiming a "we told you so" moment.

From Republican front-runner Donald Trump to evangelical Franklin Graham, many on the political right are pointing to the shocking wave of sexual assaults in Germany as a justification of their concerns of Muslim immigration.

It's now clear that what police first described as a "relaxed atmosphere" in Cologne, Germany, on New Year's Eve was anything but: Of the more than 500 criminal complaints related to incidents near the city's main train station that night, roughly 40 percent include allegations of sexual assault, including at least two rapes. A police report cited by the BBC described the assailants — small groups of men broken out from an estimated 1,000-man crowd — as "almost exclusively" North African or Arab.

[After New Year’s Eve assaults, Muslim migrants targeted in Cologne]

To conservatives, the depraved assaults confirmed their fears.

"What's going on in Germany is unthinkable," Donald Trump said at an Iowa rally over the weekend, when he linked the incidents abroad to "radical Islamic terrorism."

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said the mass assaults on women in Germany on New Year's Eve were related to 'radical Islamic terrorism.' (Reuters)

"Look at what happened in Germany, with the tremendous crime, with New Year's Eve, and the rapes and all of the carnage that took place in Germany," Trump said. "Germany! And now the German people are rioting in the streets saying, ‘What the hell are you doing to us? We have to solve our problem.’ "

The Republican presidential front-runner, who last month famously called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States, also mentioned German crime twice on Twitter last week, followed by admonitions to "GET SMART!" and "THINK!"

Trump isn't alone in citing the Cologne attacks, which have inflamed the refugee debate in Germany and spurred Chancellor Angela Merkel to pledge a crackdown on criminal asylum-seekers.

In a widely shared Facebook post, evangelical leader Franklin Graham — the eldest son of Billy Graham — voiced concern over unchecked immigration and described what happened in Germany as a "nightmare."

"If we don’t properly vet people that we allow to come into this country, this could happen here," he wrote. "I hope the Washington politicians — Republicans, Democrats and the White House — see and recognize this very grave danger."

Gangs of Muslim men from North Africa and the Middle East roamed the streets of Cologne, Germany, on New Year's Eve...

Posted by Franklin Graham on Thursday, January 7, 2016

To 91-year-old conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly, the Cologne attacks offer a clear lesson: Close the borders and pause immigration.

“This massive immigration is simply changing the face of the world. It’s already changed Germany. Germany isn’t German anymore,” Schlafly told Christian publication WND. “We want America to continue to be American, with our values, our Constitution’s values.”

Syndicated columnist Cal Thomas mentioned the Cologne attacks in a USA Today piece, warning that unchecked immigration could eventually contribute to the United States' decline:

[T]he late diplomat Sir John Glubb wrote an essay called “The Fate of Empires and the Search for Survival.” In it, he said that the average age of empires and great nations is 250 years and that has not changed in 3,000 years of human history. Among the reasons for decline in every case, he wrote, is creeping decadence, which includes “an influx of foreigners.”

In 2026, the United States will be 250 years old. What makes us think we can escape the fate of other great nations if we follow the path that led to their demise?

...

Germany, Britain and the rest of Europe have laid the groundwork for an Islamic takeover. It is a problem that can be stopped only by leaders who stop worrying about being called “Islamophobes” and start preserving their countries and cultures against an invasion by a foreign ideology that seeks to dominate and discriminate against all who don’t believe as they do.

Peggy Noonan, the Wall Street Journal columnist and a former speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan, touched on Cologne in a column last week. In it, she wrote that Trump's Muslim ban looks "suspiciously like common sense" and warned of the dangers of following Europe on immigration policy.

"Americans do not want America to become what Europe is becoming," she wrote. "You only have to look at what is reported to have happened in Cologne, Germany, on New Year’s Eve to get a sense that Europe’s establishment, with its politically correct thinking, is losing control."

Related stories:

German Muslims condemn Cologne attacks, fear consequences

German chancellor pledges crackdown on criminal asylum seekers

Cologne police chief dismissed over New Year’s Eve assaults