17 May 2004
BERLIN – Germany remains a potential target for Islamist extremists with over 30,000 radicals resident in the country, a report by Berlin’s domestic security agency warned Monday.
Although there were no fatal attacks by foreign extremists in Germany during both 2003 and 2002 the danger remains acute, said the annual survey by the Verfassungschutz – Germany’s homeland intelligence service.
“Germany is not only seen as a place to prepare attacks – German government installations could become targets,” said the report.
Berlin’s military role in Afghanistan as well as close ties to the US and Israel put the country in the firing line, the report said.
US, Israeli, British and Jewish facilities in Germany remained under a high level of danger, said the study.
Of the over 3 million Muslims resident in Germany some 31,000 are involved in Islamist groups, the report said. Germany’s total population is 82 million.
By far the biggest group is the 26,500-member Turkish Islamic Community Milli Goerues (IGMG).
IGMG poses a special threat because its schools – which preach de facto de-integration of Moslems from German society – reach thousands of non-members, said the report.
Other large Islamic radical groups are the Egytian/Syrian Moslem Brotherhood with 1,300 members; Lebanon’s Hezbollah with 800 members and the Palestinian Hamas movement with about 300 members.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder strongly opposed the Iraq war and the report expressed concern that the worsening situation in Iraq could make the country a centre for Muslim radical efforts aimed at forcing US troops not only out of Baghdad but out of the entire Middle East.
At the same time, the report said that neo-Nazi violence and the number of right-wing extremists declined slightly in Germany last year but remains a cause for concern.
Some 41,500 people were members of right-wing extremist groups at the end of 2003, down from 45,000 a year earlier, said the report by the Verfassungsschutz, Germany’s domestic security agency.
There were 759 reported far-right violent crimes in 2003, down from 772 in the previous year.
“Despite the decline the overall level of far-right acts of violence remains high,” said the report.
In one of last year’s most dramatic incidents, police arrested five neo-Nazis accused of planning a bomb attack on a ceremony to mark the construction of a new Jewish community centre in Munich.
The report underlined that despite the Munich bomb bid, right-wing extremists in Germany have so far shown little interest in turning to terrorist attacks.
By far the biggest number of far-right crimes last year were cases of causing grievous bodily harm (637), followed by arson (24).
On a per capita basis, the economically hard hit eastern state of Brandenburg had the highest level of neo-Nazi violence last year with 3.4 attacks per 100,000 inhabitants.
The lowest level was in the wealthy western city-state of Hamburg with 0.23 attacks.
Subject: German news