Overview: The threat from violent extremism remained elevated in 2013. Germany investigated, arrested, and prosecuted numerous terrorist suspects and disrupted terrorist-related groups within its borders with connections to al-Qa'ida (AQ) and other violent Islamist extremists, Kurdish nationalist, and neo-Nazi terrorist organizations. Security authorities are concerned about the estimated 240 Islamists that have departed Germany for Syria – some with the intention to hand over donations collected in Germany, others to join violent Islamist extremist groups fighting the Asad regime – because they could be trained in Syria and return with the intent to commit terrorist acts. Bilateral counterterrorism cooperation with the United States remained excellent.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The German government continued to apply its comprehensive counterterrorism legislation, which criminalizes membership in or support for domestic and foreign terrorist associations. The Criminal Code also makes a range of terrorism-related preparatory actions illegal, such as participating in terrorist training or acquiring weapons or explosives with the intent to commit attacks that endanger the German state.

Germany's centralized database against visa fraud became operational on June 1. The database is run by the Federal Administrative Office in Cologne and includes information on visa applicants, sponsors, and other persons involved in illegal activities relevant to visa applications. Separately, the Federal Administrative Office is authorized to cross-check the visa warning database with Germany's counterterrorism database.

Germany's law enforcement agencies worked effectively at state and federal levels and with international partners to detect, deter, and respond to terrorist incidents. The Federal Criminal Police Office (Bundeskriminalamt, BKA) has primary responsibility for international counterterrorism investigations affecting more than one German state, where there is no connection to a particular state, or where one or more states have requested federal assistance. In practice, BKA cooperation with equivalent bodies at the state level is commonplace and works well. The Federal Police (Bundespolizei) are responsible for border security and aviation security, and the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Bundesamt für Verfassungschutz, BfV) is the domestic intelligence agency with responsibility for intelligence and analysis pertaining to counterterrorism and countering violent extremism. Counterpart agencies to the BKA and BfV exist at the state level and coordination between federal and state levels was good. There was good interagency cooperation and timely sharing of terrorism-related information. The Joint Terrorism and Defense Center (GTAZ) serves as the central coordination body for information sharing and interagency collaboration on AQ-inspired terrorism.

In November 2012, following the investigations into the right wing violent extremist National Socialist Union (NSU), the German government created a new center focused on right-wing, left-wing, and nationalist violent extremism (GETZ). Both GTAZ and GETZ include representatives of federal and state law enforcement and security agencies as well as those involved in migration and integration affairs. Prosecutors are consulted at early stages of investigations and work in coordination with counterparts in other components of law enforcement.

German border management data systems, equipment, and infrastructure are highly developed. Data on suspected terrorists is shared between federal and state law enforcement agencies. The German passport and other identity documents incorporate strong security features.

Arrests, prosecutions, and trials:

  • In January, a Berlin court sentenced German citizen Yusuf Ocak to nine years and Austrian citizen Maqsood Lodin to six years-and-nine-months imprisonment for membership in a foreign terrorist association (AQ, and for Ocak only, the German Taliban Mujahedin). The court found them guilty of traveling to Waziristan, where leading AQ members instructed them to carry out AQ's mission in Europe.

  • In February, the Frankfurt Regional Court sentenced Keramat G., a German of Afghan descent, to three years in prison under Section 89a of the German Criminal Code – "Preparation of a serious violent offense endangering the state" – for attempting to build a bomb.

  • The trial against an AQ terrorist cell, which began in July 2012 in Düsseldorf, was ongoing at year's end. The defendants were accused of conspiring to set off explosives in crowded areas.

  • In May, the trial against alleged National Socialist Underground (NSU) member Beate Zschäpe and four accomplices began in Munich and remained ongoing at year's end. The NSU terrorist cell is suspected of murdering one policewoman and nine people of non-German heritage for racist and xenophobic reasons between 2000 and 2007.

  • In May, a Berlin court sentenced Turkish citizen Gülaferit Ü. to six-and-a-half years in prison for membership in a foreign terrorist organization (the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front of Turkey or DHKP-C). According to the court, Ü. led the DHKP-C in Europe from Berlin in August 2002 until November 2003.

  • In June, the trial began against Emrah Erdogan for membership in terrorist organizations (AQ and al-Shabaab) and incitement of robbery. He also was accused of lying to German authorities in 2010 about three planned terrorist attacks, which led to alerts in Germany in 2010 and 2011. He was arrested on June 18, 2012 in Tanzania and extradited to Germany.

  • In June, the Federal Prosecutor's Office indicted German-Afghan citizen Mohammed Salim A. in Frankfurt on charges of support of and membership in the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). He was accused of recruiting members and raising funds for the IMU in 2010and 2011 and acting as the IMU's chief representative in Germany since October 2011.

  • In June, the Federal Prosecutor ordered the arrest of Turkish citizens Sonnur D. and Muzaffer D. in Lower Saxony as well as Turkish citizens Latife C. and Özkan G. in North Rhine-Westphalia, on suspicion of membership in the DHKP-C since 2002. Sonnur D. and Muzaffer D. are suspected of belonging to DHKP-C leadership, and all four allegedly collected money for the group.

  • In September, the Federal Prosecutor's Office filed an indictment against Josef D. in Düsseldorf for membership in a foreign terrorist organization. He is accused of traveling to the Afghan-Pakistan border region in 2009, where he then joined the German Taliban Mujahedin in 2010, intending to participate in the armed conflict in Afghanistan.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Germany is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and an observer to the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing, the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, and the Financial Action Task Force of South America against Money Laundering, all of which are FATF-style regional bodies. Germany's Financial Intelligence Unit is a member of the Egmont Group. German agencies filed 14,361 suspicious transaction reports in 2012 (the latest figures available), designating 302 of them for suspected terrorist financing. Germany remained a strong advocate of the UNSCR 1267/1989 and 1988 Taliban and AQ sanctions regimes. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.

Regional and International Cooperation: Germany is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum and continued to participate in various multilateral counterterrorism initiatives. German cooperation with regional and international organizations on counterterrorism includes the UN and UN Security Council, EU, OECD, OSCE, NATO, Council of Europe, G-8, the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, and Interpol.

Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: Germany has numerous programs to counter violent extremism at the state and federal levels. In North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany's most populous state with 17 million residents, state authorities introduced the "Pathfinder" initiative to work with communities to engage individuals believed to be susceptible to radicalization to violence. In addition, North-Rhine Westphalia continued programs such as the "Ibrahim Meets Abraham" community relations initiative; the Information and Education Center against Right-Wing Extremism; the former National-Socialistic Center Vogelsang, which is now used for cultural and civic education; the "No Racism in Schools" and "Prevention of Extremism in Sports" efforts; and additional municipal programs. Dortmund has a "Prevention of Extremism in the City of Dortmund" program. The German Soccer Federation awards a prize to organizations and persons who use their positions to work for freedom, tolerance, and humanity and against intolerance, racism, and hatred. Other cities, such as Cologne, host street soccer tournaments to bring together NGOs and at-risk youths. In Berlin, the Violence Prevention Network runs a training program that serves ideologically motivated perpetrators both during and after detention.

At the national conference of state Ministers of Interior in December, Ministers agreed to increase efforts to analyze and counter the appeal of violent extremism, particularly with regard to individuals believed to be considering travel to Syria to fight in the conflict there.

The Federal Ministry of the Interior continued its counter-radicalization assistance center for parents and friends of violent extremists; the center was established in January 2012. Germany continued its HATIF (the Arabic word for telephone) program to assist violent extremists with reintegration. The Interior Ministry also continued a project, first launched in 2001, to prevent radicalization among young right-wing violent extremist offenders. The Ministry expanded the program in 2007 to cover eight states. In 2013, the Interior Ministry also continued a project in three states to counter radicalization of young delinquents influenced by violent extremist ideology.


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