‘Islamic State’ Figures as Major Terrorism Threat, German Intelligence Warns
The BfV is shifting towards tackling far right extremism in addition to Islamic fundamentalism.
Even though it was militarily defeated in Syria and Iraq, the so called Islamic State, also known as ISIS, is emerging as a top terrorist threat in the West and elsewhere, according to Germany’s intelligence service.
People should not be deceived by the fact that the “Islamic State” (IS) suffered a military defeat in Syria and Iraq, Thomas Haldenwang, President of the German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), said Monday night in Berlin.
Haldenwang, who replaced controversial Hans-Georg Maassen as head of the BfV, last year, hosted for the first time his agency’s traditional annual symposium, DW reported.
This year’s edition was entitled “Mobilization Capability in Political Extremism”, reflecting the service’s new approach also tackling extremism beyond Islamic fundamentalist groups said to have been the exclusive focus of the BfV under Maassen.
While putting right-wing and left-wing extremists on the agenda, Haldenigewang made it clear the intelligence agency would not ignore Islamic extremism as he issued a warning about the IS.
Mentioning the terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka on Easter that killed several hundred people, the chief of the German intelligence emphasized that the Islamic State had go underground, and that their attacks were likely to motivate followers in other regions of the world.
In his words, IS supporters have been spreading propaganda, including Germany, whose last Islamist terrorist attack at the truck ramming into a Berlin Christmas market in 2016 by Tunisian national Anis Amri claiming 12 lives.
“This propaganda continues to call for attacks on Western targets,” Haldenwang stated.
“Unfortunately, we know of enough Islamic terrorists who are pursuing these plans,” he added.
The BfV chief, however, also made it clear there was a “new dynamic” among right-wing extremists in Germany as they are trying to get closer to ordinary citizens.
A case in hand was the outburst of violence in the East German city of Chemnitz after a murder involving suspects from Syria and Iraq.
Although he did not name the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, Haldenwang reminded the symposium that “certain parties” in Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag, are taken with xenophobia and hatred of immigrants.
He noted that the AfD party’s youth organization as well as a wing of the party linked to Thuringian AfD boss Björn Höcke are under suspicion as in both cases the agency knew there had been extremist activities.
Haldenwang added that the BfV planned to monitor an AfD gathering in early July as a “very interesting source of knowledge” for the agency.
He also mentioned the ultranationalist National Democratic Party (NPD) labeled unconstitutional by Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court in 2017 but not banned because it was too insignificant.
However, according to the BfV head, former NPD members and supporters are looking for new organizations to join.
(Banner image: Video grab from BfV)