Germany participated in military operations overseas, provided leadership in multilateral settings, and fought terrorism within its borders. While no terrorist attacks took place in Germany, terrorists planted suitcase bombs that failed to detonate on two German trains, and German authorities uncovered a plot to smuggle a bomb aboard an Israeli jetliner. These incidents received extensive press coverage and were pointed to by German officials as reasons for Germany to take additional counterterrorism actions.
Germany was a leading contributor of troops to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan with nearly 3000 troops deployed. The German Navy also participated in Operation Enduring Freedom off the Horn of Africa with roughly 330 military personnel involved. On October 25, a German Ministry of Defense White Paper outlined that, in the future, the international fight against terrorism would be a central task for the German military. Germany has resisted sending forces to Iraq, but provided equipment and training for the Iraqi military and training for the Iraqi police in the United Arab Emirates.
Eight EU member states joined the "Pruem" agreement, a German initiative from May 2005, to deepen law enforcement cooperation. The agreement enables faster sharing of car registration, DNA, and fingerprint data. Germany was active in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, in the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units, and in seeking additional EU listings of terrorists.
The German government implemented legislation to strengthen its ability to fight terrorism. Federal reforms, enacted in July, granted the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation broader powers for terrorism investigations and for preventive arrest of would-be terrorists. On December 1, the German Bundestag approved two bills: one created a unified terrorism database, combining information from federal and state agencies as well as from law enforcement and security agencies; the second bill broadened and simplified the ability of German security agencies to obtain travel, financial, and telephone data.
The June 9 – July 9 Soccer World Cup brought millions of fans from around the world to 64 matches in 12 German cities. Germany sought vigorous cooperation with law enforcement officials from neighboring and participating countries to prevent terrorist incidents. Several U.S. agencies developed new bilateral cooperative arrangements with German counterparts.
During the year, German law enforcement authorities arrested and investigated numerous individuals suspected of involvement in terrorism. At the end of the year, German authorities were investigating nearly 200 cases of terrorism-related crimes nationwide. Prominent new actions and arrests included:
- The November 17 raids and detention of six individuals who tried to bribe another person to smuggle a bomb aboard an Israeli aircraft during the summer. German authorities indicated the plot had been at an early stage; they released all individuals later in the day except for one wanted on another charge.
- The October 10 arrest of an Iraqi for posting AQ and other terrorist messages on the Internet.
- The August 19 and 25 arrests of a Lebanese and a Syrian, respectively, connected with the July 31 planting of two suitcase bombs aboard German regional trains in Dortmund and Koblenz. German prosecutors ordered the release of the Syrian on September 14 due to lack of evidence. German authorities worked closely with their Lebanese counterparts, who arrested another individual implicated in the plot.
- The July 6 arrest of a German citizen of Moroccan heritage charged with recruiting extremist fighters for battle in Iraq as well as for fundraising and providing logistical support for AQ.
- The June 12 arrest of an Iraqi charged with providing financial and logistical support for Ansar al-Islam.
- Additional arrests resulted in German prosecutors charging several with leadership of and fundraising for the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP-C).
German courts began trials or reached verdicts in some notable counterterrorism cases. As in previous years, German laws and traditional procedures, as well as the courts' long-standing and expansive view of civil liberties, sometimes limited the success of cases prosecutors brought to trial:
- On November 16, ruling on an appeal, the Federal High Court convicted Moroccan citizen and 9/11 Hamburg cell member Mounir el Motassadeq of both membership in a terrorist organization and of 246 counts of accessory to murder (the 246 figure represented the number of passengers aboard the hijacked airliners of 9/11).1
- On July 14, German prosecutors closed their investigation of Syrian-German dual national Mamoun Darkazanli, wanted in Spain on terrorism charges.
- On June 20, a Stuttgart court began the trial of three Iraqi alleged members of Ansar al-Islam: Ata Abdoulaziz Rashid, Rafik Mohamad Yousef, and Mazen al-Hussein. German prosecutors have charged the three, who have been in detention since December 2004, with a plot to assassinate former Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi during his visit to Berlin that month. Prosecutors also charged them with financial crimes and membership in, financing, and recruiting for a foreign terrorist organization.
- On May 9, a Düsseldorf court began the trial of one Iraqi (Ibrahim Mohamed Khalil) and two Palestinian defendants (brothers Yasser Abu Shaweesh and Ismail Abu Shaweesh) accused of membership in and/or support of Ansar al-Islam, insurance fraud, and attempted procurement of enriched uranium for a "dirty bomb." The three have been in German custody since their arrests in January and May 2005.
- On January 12, a Bavarian court convicted Iraqi citizen Lokman Amin Mohammed of membership in Ansar al-Islam and Ansar al-Sunna, providing them financial and logistical support, and smuggling terrorists into Iraq; he was sentenced to seven years in jail.
The German Interior Ministry used its authority under the Law on Associations to ban organizations that it believed were connected to terrorism. Germany banned a number of such organizations in recent years, including the DHKP-C, Dev Sol, Hizb-ut Tahrir, the PKK, and organizations connected with HAMAS. On January 25, a German court rejected an appeal of the ban against Hizb-ut Tahrir.
Germany participated in several U.S. programs to combat terrorism, including the Container Security Initiative in the ports of Hamburg and Bremerhaven. The 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 six German airports with flights to the United States.
1 German courts convicted Motassadeq in 2003 of membership in a terrorist organization and accessory to 3,000 murders, but the Federal High Court subsequently ordered a retrial in 2004 due to the perceived lack of access to potentially exculpatory testimony from such individuals as Khaled Sheik Mohammed, whom the court presumed to be in U.S. custody. In August 2005, a Hamburg court convicted Motassadeq on the charge of membership in a terrorist organization and sentenced him to seven years in jail. As is possible in Germany, both the prosecution and the defense appealed. On February 6, the court released Motassadeq from custody pending the outcome of the appeal. Police re-arrested Motassadeq on November 17, the day after the Federal High Court's guilty verdict.