Brussels (Brussels Morning) German security forces estimated there were 627 potential terrorists in the country as of 1 September and concluded that the associated threat level remains consistently high, DW reported yesterday, Wednesday.
Potential terrorists, according to the authorities, can be found among people in whose cases indicate “certain facts” that there is a realistic likelihood “that they will commit a politically motivated crime of considerable significance.”
One of the 627, 20-year-old Abdullah al-H. from Syria, attacked a gay couple with a kitchen knife in Dresden on 4 October, killing one and wounding one. The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) noted that individual attackers inspired by terrorist organizations present a major threat since they are difficult to pick out in advance. In the 2019 report released in July this year, the BfV cited several foiled attacks and described the threat level as consistently high.
Authorities may not arrest on the basis of potential threats unless the person is suspected of committing or proved to have conspired to commit a crime. Membership in a terrorist organisation is considered a crime. Over and above the 600-plus suspected of being potential threats, security authorities warn of another category. This consists of some 500 persons of relevance, defined as leaders, supporters or potential perpetrators considered likely to commit, finance or support a terrorist attack, in addition to companions and associates of known potential threats. Of the 300 or so Islamist fighters who returned to Germany from territory held by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq and Syria, 109 were classified as potential terrorists and 90 as persons or relevance.
After the attack in Dresden, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer raised the possibility of ending the policy of not deporting those considered to be potential threats to Syria. However, a major impediment to instituting such a deportation process is the fact that most of those classified as potential threats possess German citizenship.
Austria’s Interior Minister Karl Nehammer has acknowledged that Slovakia sent a warning last summer to Austrian authorities about the person responsible for the recent murderous attacks in Vienna. The Minister, according to BBC, also indicated that the Slovak report had not been followed up. Slovak police pointed out that they had informed the Austrian authorities that suspects from Austria had tried to buy ammunition in July. Something went wrong in the communication, Nehammer said, adding that an independent inquiry should shed light on this failure.
In the wake of the Vienna attack, Austria’s Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz called on the EU to focus more on the problem of political Islam in the future. He hoped the EU would see an end to what he termed misguided tolerance of political Islam, an ideology, he warned, that poses danger for European freedoms and its way of life.
Former Italian Army officer, MEP Antonio Tajani reiterated a call for the formation of an EU equivalent of the FBI, stressing the importance of coordination between national police and intelligence services in the fight against ISIL militants.