Less Islamist extremists posing threat to national security, Home Office says

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Police classify less Islamist extremists as a potential threat to public safety. In concrete terms, the number fell from 748 nationwide to 688. This, however, is hardly reassuring – not least because of recent developments in Syria.

According to the Ministry of the Interior, police currently classify fewer Islamists as posing a threat to national security than six months ago. This is the result of an answer given by the federal government to an inquiry by the Greens. According to the response, authorities registered 688 so-called ‘endangerers’ nationwide in September – in March the count was still 748.

In the field of politically motivated crime, the term ‘endangerer’ is used to describe people who are believed to have committed serious acts of violence, including terrorist attacks. From the point of view of the authorities, however, this trend does not yet give cause for a sigh of relief. Voices from the security community say it would be premature to cut the number of officials dealing with radical Islamism, particularly because of current developments in Northern Syria.

ISIS fighters flee Syrian prisons

According to the Ministry of the Interior, the 688 people currently posing a security threat include 108 individuals who might return from the Syrian-Iraq conflict area.

However, it remains unclear how many of the German ISIS fighters used the Turkish military offensive in the past days to escape from prisons and camps in Northern Syria. The fighters of the terror militia “Islamic State” (IS) and their relatives had been held captive in camps controlled by Kurdish groups.

Another potential risk is that some of the perpetrators convicted in Germany will be released from prison in the foreseeable future. Of the 774 people who were classified as a threat in the field of Islamist terrorism on 24 July last year, 450 resided in Germany. At the time, 170 of these individuals were serving a prison sentence in German prisons.

Irene Mihalic, spokeswoman for internal affairs for the Green parliamentary group in the Bundestag, told the German Press Agency: “It would be dangerous if the German government were to be blinded by the decline in the number of dangerous Islamist extremists”. If German ISIS fighters from the camps were now returning to Europe and Germany in an uncontrolled manner, this would be a threatening situation. The Federal Government would now have to explain how it wants to deal with these risks, Mihalic insisted.

52 high risk individuals were deported

The standardised evaluation criteria used by the police to assess the threat emanating from Islamist extremists include, among other things, the handling of weapons and weapon affinity, any record of social violence, psychological disorders or criminal behaviour, as well departure to and involvement in relevant war and crisis zones. In addition, there must be “objective information that allows the conclusion that they might commit politically motivated crimes of considerable importance”.

In 2018, 52 threat-posing individuals were deported from Germany. In addition to these so-called ‘endangerers’, police also keep track of ‘relevant individuals’. This group of people includes those who were identified in the scene as leaders, or as potential helpers and accomplices of ‘endangerers’. People who are somehow in contact with the aforementioned endangerers also belong to this group. The police listed 501 people as ‘relevant individuals’ in September.

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