- German authorities have carried out a major anti-terrorist police operation targeting alleged ISIS members and this helpers.
- Wanted suspects might be connected to another ISIS militant arrested in Germany’s Leipzig last week.
- Raids show Germany’s readiness to strike against international terrorism, according to Interior Minister.
- Number of potential terrorists in Germany has quadrupled to over 650 since the Syrian Civil War began in 2011, police data shows.
German security forces have launched a nationwide anti-terrorist police operation across Germany in order to detain ISIS extremists.
In another major anti-terror operation in February, Germany arrested two German-born men, one of Algerian, and another of Nigerian origin, based on intelligence information about an “imminent terrorist attack” the suspects had been plotting.
A German court ruled that the two men could be deported even though they were born in Germany.
In December 2016, the Christmas market in Berlin was subjected to a terrorist attack in which a Tunisian national hijacked a truck and rammed it into a crowd, killing 12 people, and injuring many others.
‘Prepared to Strike’
German security forces carried out a nationwide anti-terror operation on Wednesday, searching properties in the states of Saxony, Bavaria, Saxony-Anhalt and Berlin, DW reported.
Pre-dawn raids began in the eastern city of Leipzig on Wednesday, with regional news portal “Tag24” reporting that the operation targeted suspected members of the ISIS terrorist group (“Islamic State in Iraq and Syria”) as well as other extremist factions.
A police spokesperson in Leipzig said the raids were part of a nationwide anti-terror operation. Similar raids were carried out in the federal states of Saxony-Anhalt, Berlin and Bavaria.
According to German daily “Bild,” authorities searched three apartments belonging to asylum seekers in the Leipzig districts of Volkmarsdorf, Mockau and Connewitz.
Germany’s Federal Prosecution Office in Karlsruhe said that among those targeted were two suspected ISIS members, as well as another suspect accused of providing support for the jihadist group.
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the raids showed that country’s security forces were “prepared to strike” against the threat of international terrorism.
The anti-terror operation comes after last week the Leipzig police arrested a suspected ISIS militant near the city.
The 29-year-old Syrian national had allegedly pledged allegiance to the ISIS terrorist organization in 2013 and had fought in Syria for several years.
Prosecutors said the three suspects are thought to be connected with the Syrian national arrested last week, as well with another Syrian arrested in June 2016 on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack in the western German city of Duesseldorf.
Growing Number of Potential Terrorists
A newspaper report citing federal police statistics reported recently that the number of potential terrorists in Germany was increasing, as now more than 600 people are considered potential perpetrators of a terrorist attack.
Citing numbers from Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), the “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung” newspaper reported that there are currently 657 people believed to be capable of carrying out a terror attack.
According to the BKA, this number has quadrupled since the start of the civil war in Syria back in 2011.
Many regarded as potential threats are being monitored by police, and around 100 are currently in jail.
In addition, there are 388 “relevant persons” who could be considered at risk of lending assistance to perpetrators of terrorist acts.
Part of the reason for the dramatic rise in the number of potential terrorist in Germany is a change in how the number is estimated, the newspaper said.
Following an attack in December that saw a man drive a truck into a crowded Christmas market, authorities across Germany now use the same system for evaluating a person’s potential threat. Previously, states had used varying definitions of what constitutes a threat.
What is more, fewer German citizens are reported to be leaving the country to join ISIS in Syria or Iraq, and are “considering attacks closer to home instead”.
According to the German authorities, this can be attributed to the fact that ISIS is being militarily weakened and fighting for them is a less attractive option.
Despite the drop, Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office also reports that it has registered 920 people who have left Germany for Iraq or Syria.
Around 70 are reported to have taken part in fighting or in training camps, with an additional 145 killed.