2009 Country Reports on Terrorism - Germany
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||5 August 2010|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, 2009 Country Reports on Terrorism - Germany, 5 August 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c63b64428.html [accessed 8 March 2014]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
German security officials estimated that roughly 185 individuals – both German nationals and permanent residents – have undergone paramilitary training over the past ten years at Islamist extremist training centers located primarily in the border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Approximately 90 of these individuals have returned to Germany and 15 of them were in custody in 2009. Germany investigated, arrested, and prosecuted numerous terrorism suspects and disrupted terrorist-related groups within its borders with connections to international Islamist, Kurdish nationalist, and Marxist-Leninist terrorist organizations. Two new legislative packages entered into force that strengthened Germany's counterterrorism legal framework and provided security officials with new powers of investigation.
Throughout the year, a number of Islamist-inspired terrorist organizations, including the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), al-Qa'ida (AQ), and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, released videos featuring German speakers who threatened terrorist attacks in Germany or against German interests abroad. Bin Ladin and Zawahiri also issued statements threatening Germany prior to the German federal elections in September. In a number of instances, the identities of the individuals appearing in the videos were known and included German-Moroccan dual citizens Bekkay Harrach, Mounir Chouka, and Yassin Chouka.
During the summer, the frequency of the extremist video and audio messages increased. The messages threatened Germany with attacks if the government did not withdraw its military forces from Afghanistan in what security officials interpreted as an attempt to influence the September 27 national elections. The threats led German police to take heightened security measures at airports, railway stations, and other public sites. On November 13, the Stuttgart district court sentenced an ethnic Turkish man to six months in jail for breach of the peace after he posted one of the extremist videos featuring Bekkay Harrach on YouTube.
On January 1, new legislation went into effect that broadened the powers of the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (BKA) in counterterrorism investigations. The law provided the BKA with preventative investigatory powers, that is authority to carry out actions based either on a suspicion that individuals are planning a crime or potentially involved in criminal activity, and gave it lead responsibility in terrorism investigations in which the threat extends across multiple federal states, in which state-level competence is unclear, or in which state officials request federal assistance.
On August 4, a second legislative package entered into force that made significant amendments to the German Criminal Code and criminalized a range of terrorism-related preparatory actions such as participating in terrorist training or acquiring weapons and bombs with the intent to commit attacks that endanger the German state. The amendments also outlawed the distribution and acquisition of bomb making and similar instruction materials if the intent is to motivate individuals to commit violent crimes. Establishing contact with a terrorist group with the intent of receiving training to commit attacks is also outlawed.
A high-profile trial of the four individuals belonging to the IJU cell arrested in Sauerland in 2007 began on April 22. The defendants were charged with membership in a foreign terrorist organization, preparation of a serious criminal offense involving explosives, and other violations. The defendants gave comprehensive testimony that included descriptions of their training at terrorist camps in North Waziristan, Pakistan. The trial had not concluded by year's end.
German courts also began trials or reached verdicts in other notable counterterrorism cases:
On October 13, the Frankfurt Higher Regional Court sentenced Omid Shirkani, a German citizen, to two years and nine months in prison, and co-defendant Huseyin Ozgun, a Turkish citizen, to one year and two months in prison on charges of supporting a foreign terrorist organization and violating the Foreign Trade Act. The two participated in terrorism training in Pakistan and supported the IJU with financing and paramilitary equipment.
On July 13, the Koblenz Higher Regional Court sentenced Aleem Nasir, a German citizen, to eight years imprisonment for membership in a foreign terrorist organization (AQ) and multiple counts of violating the Foreign Trade Act. Nasir recruited personnel and provided money and military equipment to AQ.
In July, the Dusseldorf Higher Regional Court found Hüseyin Acar, a leading member of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), guilty of being the ring-leader of a criminal organization and of coordinating PKK actions in Germany. The Court sentenced Acar to three years and nine months in prison.
On August 12, the Frankfurt Higher Regional Court found a Turkish citizen, guilty of membership in a terrorist organization and multiple cases of arson, sentencing him to four years imprisonment. The individual was a PKK leader in southern Germany between 1993 and 1994 and ordered multiple arson attacks on Turkish targets in Germany in which one person died.
On April 8, the Frankfurt Higher Regional Court upheld the 2008 sentencing of Muzaffer Ayata, a Turkish citizen, to three years and six months in prison on charges of being a leader of a criminal organization (PKK).
On September 14, the Koblenz Higher Regional Court began the trial of Sermet Ilgen, a German citizen, and Ömer Özdemir, a Turkish citizen, who are charged with membership in a foreign terrorist organization and violations of the Foreign Trade Act. The two were accused of having participated in terrorist training at camps in Pakistan and to have provided al-Qa'ida with funding and equipment.
On January 15, the Dusseldorf Higher Regional Court began the trial of five individuals suspected of membership in the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), a left-wing terrorist organization that seeks to overthrow the Turkish government and replace it with a Marxist-Leninist regime.
During the year, German law enforcement authorities arrested a number of individuals suspected of involvement in terrorism. Prominent new actions and arrests included:
The BKA arrested Adnan Vatandas, who is suspected of supporting AQ by distributing Internet propaganda and instructions on bomb-making.
On December 9, prosecutors in Dusseldorf filed charges against a Turkish woman for membership in a terrorist organization (DHKP-C).
On December 15, police arrested a German citizen of Turkish descent, on suspicion of attempted arson, membership in a terrorist organization (DHKP-C) and conspiracy to commit homicide. He is alleged to have participated in the fire bombings of two Turkish banks in Germany in 1995.
Germany remained a strong advocate of the UNSCR 1267 al-Qa'ida/Taliban financial sanctions regime and proposed a number of individuals to the committee for designation.
Implementation discussions continued regarding a bilateral U.S.-German agreement to strengthen fingerprint and DNA information sharing to combat terrorism and serious crime. The U.S. Embassy's Law Enforcement Working Group continued its ongoing engagement with state-level law enforcement contacts by organizing four security conferences throughout Germany that included terrorist themes.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Ministry of Interior continued their strategic dialogue and held a Deputies-chaired conference in June to strengthen cooperation across a range of counterterrorism-related issues. Germany participated in the DHS Customs and Border Protection's Container Security Initiative in the ports of Hamburg and Bremerhaven and supported DHS Customs and Border Protection's Immigration Advisory Program operating at the Frankfurt Airport. The DHS Transportation Security Administration's presence in Frankfurt, together with U.S. and German air marshals, formed key parts of bilateral efforts to provide air transport security for the seven German airports with flights to the United States.