Overview: The threat from violent extremism increased in 2014 in connection with the threat posed by domestic radical groups as well as foreign terrorist fighters. Germany investigated, arrested, and prosecuted a sharply increased number of terrorist suspects and disrupted terrorist-related groups within its borders, many of whom were connected to al-Qa'ida (AQ), the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), other violent Islamist extremists, Kurdish nationalist, and neo-Nazi terrorist organizations. Security officials estimated over 550 residents in Germany have departed the country to participate in the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, the majority of which joined violent Islamist extremist groups in the fighting there. A third of these may have already returned to Germany. German officials actively investigated these returnees for any terrorist threat resulting from their experience abroad and possible desire to continue to support violent extremist causes. Bilateral counterterrorism cooperation with the United States remained excellent.

Germany is a member of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL and has provided arms, material support, and training to Kurdish security forces. The German government has committed support for further counter-ISIL training efforts in Iraq. Germany voiced its support for UNSCRs 2170 and 2178 and is currently preparing legislative amendments to specifically criminalize terrorist finance and foreign terrorist fighter travel, although German law already criminalizes both the provision of financial or material support for terrorist groups or acts as well as attendance at terrorist training camps. Germany is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) and supported the GCTF good practices on foreign terrorist fighters. Domestically, the German government has increased enforcement efforts to prevent, interdict, and counter foreign terrorist fighter travel and has voiced support for strengthening EU and Schengen measures to do so. In September, the Ministry of Interior issued a ban against actions in support of ISIL, making it explicitly illegal to join, recruit, provide material support for, propagandize for, or display the symbols of ISIL. German security officials actively made use of existing provisions allowing them to seize passports of those deemed to pose a security risk and began preparatory work on other measures to block travel, such as limitations on national identification cards. In November, the Bundestag (parliament) approved a 2015 budget that included increased spending on law enforcement and domestic intelligence efforts to counter the foreign terrorist fighter threat.

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.

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. Germany does not collect entry/exit data. Collection and retention of Advance Passenger Information (API) is limited and Passenger Name Record (PNR) analysis is not used. Germany supports an EU-wide PNR directive and entry/exit systems rather than systems managed by individual member states.

Counterterrorism arrests, prosecutions, and trials:


  • Throughout the year, German police, prosecutors, and courts took various actions against ISIL members, supporters, or returned foreign terrorist fighters. At year's end, the Federal Minister of Justice said authorities were carrying out approximately 300 investigations or prosecutions nationwide related to ISIL membership or support

  • In March, as part of a nationwide series of raids, police arrested German citizen Fatih Kharaman in Berlin, Turkish citizen Fatih I. in Frankfurt, and German-Polish dual national Karolina R. in Bonn. The three were indicted for providing financial or propaganda support to ISIL, and Kharaman and Fatih I. were also charged with ISIL membership and terrorist training during travel to Syria. In September, prosecutors indicted Kharaman for membership in Junud al-Sham, which fights alongside ISIL and other violent extremist groups. Also in September, the Federal Prosecutor General added additional terrorist finance charges against Karolina R. and also indicted Ahmed-Sadiq M. and Jennifer Vincenza M. for membership in and financial support to ISIL.

  • In June, the German Federal Police arrested a French citizen returning from Syria and subsequently extradited him to France on terrorism charges. The man arrived in Berlin by plane from Turkey and was detained upon arrival. He was suspected of having traveled to Syria to join ISIL forces, where he was wounded participating in combat.

  • In October, the Federal Prosecutor General indicted German citizen Harun P. for membership in the foreign terrorist group Junud al-Sham, as well as for murder and conspiracy to commit murder. P. traveled to Syria in September 2013 where he received paramilitary training and participated in a February 2014 attack on the central state prison in Aleppo that left two soldiers and five inmates dead. Prosecutors also charged him with attempting to incite the group to murder a teenaged German girl in Syria. Czech Police arrested him at the Prague Airport in April and later extradited him to Germany.

  • In October and November, police and prosecutors carried out a series of investigations and raids resulting in the arrest of multiple alleged members or supporters of ISIL. Police in North Rhine-Westphalia arrested Tunisian citizen Kamel Ben Yahia S., Russian citizen Yusup G, Moroccan-German citizen Mounir R., and Lebanese citizen Kassem El R. for providing financial, material, and recruitment support to ISIL.

  • In November, police including special counterterrorism units, arrested a German citizen suspected of being a returned ISIL fighter in Wolfsburg.

  • In November, a court in Stuttgart opened the trial of Lebanese citizens Ismail Issa and Ezzeddine Issa and German citizen Mohammed Sobhan Ayubi on charges of support for terrorism. Ismail Issa is also charged with membership in a foreign terrorist organization (ISIL). Police arrested Ismail Issa and Ayubi in November 2013 while they were transporting night vision equipment, medication, tools, and binoculars intended for ISIL. Ezzeddine Issa (Ismail's brother) and Ayubi allegedly assisted him with financing, procurement, and transport. The trial was ongoing at year's end.

  • In December, a court in Frankfurt convicted Kreshnik Berisha of membership in a foreign terrorist organization (ISIL) and sentenced him to three years and nine months in prison. Berisha was arrested upon his return to Germany in December 2013, after having left for Syria in July of the same year. This was the first trial involving a returned foreign terrorist fighter from Syria to be concluded.

Other significant cases included:

  • In November, a court in Düsseldorf convicted four members of an AQ terrorist cell, ending a trial that began in July 2012. The court found three defendants (Moroccan citizen Abdeladim El Kebir, German-Moroccan citizen Jamil Sedikki, and German-Iranian citizen Amid Chaabi) guilty of membership in a foreign terrorist group and sentenced them to terms of nine years, seven years and five-and-a-half years in prison, respectively. The court found German citizen Halil Simsek guilty of support for terrorism and fraud and sentenced him to four-and-a-half years. The charges stemmed from El Kebir's travel to a terrorist training camp in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region and subsequent recruitment of his co-defendants for the preparation and execution of one or more bombing attacks in Germany. The United States provided evidentiary support and expert testimony in the case. The defendants filed an appeal in federal court, which was pending at year's end.

  • In January, a Frankfurt court sentenced Emrah Erdogan to seven years in prison for membership in terrorist organizations (AQ and al-Shabaab) and incitement of robbery.

  • In February, a court in Hamburg convicted German-Afghan dual national Sulaiman Sadiki of membership in the foreign terrorist organization the Islamist Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and sentenced him to three years in prison. Sadiki attended an IMU/AQ terror camp in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region in 2009 and assisted with logistical tasks including weapons transport, as well as with the production of an IMU propaganda film. Sadiki fled before the trial's conclusion but Bulgarian authorities arrested and subsequently extradited him to Germany.

  • In March, a court in Düsseldorf sentenced Josef Dweik to two-and-a-half years in prison for membership in the foreign terrorist organization the German Taliban Mujahedin, which he joined in the Afghan-Pakistan border region in 2010, intending to participate in the armed conflict in Afghanistan. The Federal Prosecutor General's Office indicted Dweik on terrorism charges in September 2013.

  • In May, a court in Düsseldorf sentenced 29-year old Lebanese-German dual citizen Ahmed Krekshi to three-and-a-half years in prison for support of the foreign terrorist organization IMU. Krekshi transferred over US $4,700 to the IMU and contributed to propaganda efforts, as well as gathering intelligence on Germany.

  • In August, a Düsseldorf court convicted Turkish citizen Özkan Güzel and sentenced him to 26 months in prison for membership in the Turkish foreign terrorist organization the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C). The court found that Güzel had been involved with the DHKP-C since 1998 and that he was raising funds meant to support armed conflict.

  • In August, the Federal Criminal Police arrested Turkish citizen Mehmet D. on suspicion of membership in the foreign terrorist organization the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Federal prosecutors accused him of directing PKK activities (including fundraising and overseeing financial management) in northern and central Germany under the code name "Kahraman" since January 2013.

  • In September, the Federal Criminal Investigative Police (BKA) arrested three German citizens (Steven N., Abdullah W., and Abdulsalam W.) on suspicion of membership in terrorist group al-Shabaab. The three were arrested upon arrival in Frankfurt on a flight from Kenya and were reportedly considering travel to Syria to join violent extremist groups there. The following day, authorities in Kenya arrested two additional German citizens who were also thought to be members of al-Shabaab.

  • In September, the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court opened the trial of German citizen Marco René Gäbel, German citizen Tayfun Sevim, German-Turkish dual citizen Koray Nicholas Durmaz, and Albanian citizen Enea Buzo on terrorism-related charges. Authorities charged that the four formed a terrorist group and attempted to murder the leader of a far-right-wing political party in March 2013. Additionally, Gäbel is charged with attempted mass murder in a failed attempt to bomb the Bonn train station in December 2012, which potentially carries a life sentence. The trial was ongoing at year's end.

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 Latin America against Money Laundering, all of which are FATF-style regional bodies. Germany's financial intelligence unit is a member of the Egmont Group. In June, based on improvements reflected in its most recent FATF Mutual Evaluation Follow-up Report, FATF removed Germany from the Follow-Up process. German agencies filed 19,095 suspicious transaction reports in 2013 (the latest figures available), a 33% increase over the prior year. Agencies designated 208 of them for suspected terrorist financing, a significant decrease as a share of reports. Germany remained a strong advocate of the UNSCR 1267/1989 (Al-Qaida) and 1988 (Taliban) sanctions regimes.

Police and prosecutors began investigations and trials in a number of terrorist financing cases related to ISIL during the year, as noted above. None of these had reached a conclusion by year's end.

In April, the Federal Ministry of the Interior banned a Hizballah-affiliated charity, the Lebanese Orphan Children Project (Waisenkinderprojekt Libanon) and seized nearly US $80,000 in assets. The group is suspected of transferring over US $4 million to Hizballah's Al-Shahid Foundation since 2007. In June, a court issued a temporary injunction against parts of the ban after the organization filed a legal challenge, but left the assets frozen; a final ruling was still pending at year's end.

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-7, the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, and Interpol. Within the GCTF, Germany is a founding supporter of the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law, and the Institute's Executive Director is a seconded German official. Germany also supports GCTF capacity building projects. Germany has advocated strongly within the EU for improved counterterrorism and border security efforts.

Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: Germany has numerous programs to counter violent extremism at the state and federal levels. The Federal and State Ministries of Interior have formed a working group to ensure coordination and more effective support for efforts to analyze and counter the appeal of violent extremism, which meets regularly to compile and disseminate information and best practices.

The Federal Ministry of the Interior continued its counter-radicalization assistance center for concerned parents and friends of violent extremists; the center was established in January 2012 and has expanded to include a nationwide telephone hotline with clients referred to a region-specific advising partner. The hotline has received over 1,200 calls since its establishment. In September, the government folded the work of its HATIF (the Arabic word for telephone) program into the counter-radicalization assistance center, which has also taken on HATIF's mission of assisting violent extremists who wish to exit the scene with reintegration.

In North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany's most populous state with 17 million residents, state authorities continued and expanded the work of the "Pathfinder" initiative to work with communities to engage individuals believed to be susceptible to radicalization to violence. In some cities, NGOs or community organizations implement the programs, while in others, city government offices do so. In addition, North-Rhine Westphalia continued other programs to improve civic education and to provide opportunities for at-risk youth. In Berlin, the Violence Prevention Network runs a training program that serves ideologically motivated perpetrators both during and after detention.

In June, the state of Hesse opened a state-wide "Violence Prevention Network" supported by a counseling center in Frankfurt. The center's mission is to advise at-risk youth and their friends, families, teachers, and classmates. Other states have announced similar plans or begun funding the work of NGOs involved in CVE and de-radicalization efforts, including Hamburg, Lower Saxony, Bavaria, and Baden-Württemberg.


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