Germany

Overview:  Germany continued its counterterrorism cooperation with the United States and the international community as a member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum and in multilateral CT operations in Africa and the Middle East.  German officials consider racially or ethnically motivated violent extremist actors to be the greatest threat to domestic security.  The most recent statistics (from 2021) estimated 28,290 “Islamist extremists,” 13,500 potential REMVEs, and 10,300 potentially violent “left-wing extremists” in the country.  In May, Germany, together with the U.S. Departments of State and Justice, hosted the launch of the Counterterrorism Law Enforcement Forum in Berlin.

2022 Terrorist Incidents:  There were no terrorist incidents reported in Germany.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security:  Both federal and state law enforcement agencies conduct CT investigations.  They coordinate through the Joint Counterterrorism Center (or GTAZ), consisting of 40 internal law enforcement, security, and migration agencies cooperating in the fight against Islamist-based terrorism.  For right-, left-, and nationalist-based violent extremism and terrorism, the Joint Extremism and Terrorism Prevention Center (or GETZ) in Cologne is the site of interagency coordination.

In 2022 the Federal Prosecutor’s Office opened approximately 256 new terrorism investigations.  German authorities collect Advance Passenger Information and use Passenger Name Record analysis to combat serious crime and terrorism in a manner consistent with the relevant EU laws.  German border management data systems, equipment, and infrastructure are highly developed.

In October and November, Germany, with U.S. logistical support, repatriated five ISIS-affiliated women, 11 children, and a 20-year-old male from Roj displaced persons camp in Syria.  This was the first operation to bring back an adult male, who was taken to Syria by his parents in 2013.  In March, Germany repatriated 10 women and 27 children.  Investigations are ongoing against all adult returnees from the three 2022 repatriation missions, and police arrested 12 on their arrival, including the adult male.

Germany uses a comprehensive approach to deradicalization from violence and reintegration under the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, which includes cooperation and services at state and local levels.

Significant law enforcement actions in 2022 included these two:

  • On April 14, more than 270 police officers from nine federal states searched 20 locations and arrested five suspected members of a domestic terrorist group.  The group allegedly aimed to destroy power supply facilities and initiate a prolonged, nationwide blackout to instigate a civil war and ultimately overthrow the democratic government.  They also allegedly planned to kidnap well-known public figures, including federal health minister Karl Lauterbach.  Authorities believe the suspects are associated with anti-COVID restrictions protesters and the Reichsbürger
  • On December 7, on behalf of the Federal Prosecutor’s Office, over 3,000 German police and special forces across 11 German states raided more than 150 residential and commercial properties of 54 alleged associates of a “right wing” domestic terrorist group and detained 25 individuals suspected of plotting to overthrow the government.

The trial against 12 alleged supporters of the right-wing terrorist group “Gruppe S” continued.  The defendants, arrested in 2020, stood accused of amassing weapons and developing plans to commit political assassinations and attack migrants and Muslims.

Germany is limited by its postwar security architecture with a strict organizational separation of law enforcement and intelligence agencies.  Privacy and data protection laws place significant limits on the collection and retention of data.

Germany’s domestic security agency in 2021 reported a total of 33,900 “right wing” violent extremists.  The number of violent crimes committed by right-wing actors decreased by 7.6 percent from 2020 (1,023) to 2021 (945).

Countering the Financing of Terrorism:  Germany is a member of FATF.  Its FIU, the Financial Intelligence Unit Germany, is a member of the Egmont Group.  In August, following recommendations from its FATF mutual evaluation, the Federal Minister of Finance proposed a plan to create a new agency — the Higher Federal Authority for Combating Financial Crime — to address shortcomings within Germany’s Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism regime.

Also in August, a federal court confirmed the ban of the right-wing violent extremist association Nordadler.  Germany’s Law on Associations gives the Interior Ministry authority to ban groups if their goals violate the criminal code.  Germany has banned more than 50 REMVE groups to date.  In March, the states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Bremen, respectively, banned the Imam Mahdi Zentrum/Fatime Versammlung e.V. and the Al Mustafa Gemeinschaft e.V., both associations linked to Hizballah.  In December a federal court confirmed the Interior Ministry’s 2021 ban against three associations suspected of fundraising for Hizballah.

Countering Violent Extremism:  The Strategy to Prevent Extremism and Promote Democracy (2016) guides the government’s activities.  Most programs are federally funded, led jointly by the federal interior and family ministries, and implemented through the states and NGOs.  In March, the Ministry of Interior released a 10-Point Action Plan for Tackling Right-Wing Extremism to set legislative priorities on “extremism.”

The federal Live Democracy! program is a cornerstone of the government’s strategy.  In 2022 the budget for the program was increased to $176 million to expand its programs on REMVE and the polarization of society.

International and Regional Cooperation:  Germany is a member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), and co-chairs the West Africa Working Group with Algeria, and works on maritime and border security initiatives within the GCTF.  Germany cooperates with other OSCE states and within the G7 Roma-Lyon Group in the fight against terrorism.  The German cities of Augsburg, Berlin, Dresden, Düsseldorf, and Halle are members of the Strong Cities Network.  Germany plays a critical role as a co-lead for the Defeat-ISIS Coalition’s Stabilization Working Group, working closely with the United States to identify stabilization funding needs in Iraq and Syria.

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