Danger of terrorism on the rise in Germany, police chief says
The danger of terrorism is "greater than ever," the head of Germany's Federal police, the BKA, said on Wednesday, DPA reported.
The threat of militant Islamist attacks was a "high abstract danger for Germany," Joerg Ziercke told delegates at the agency's annual convention.
He said the number of preliminary investigations into Islamist threats had risen constantly since 2001, to reach a current peak of 352. On top of this, Ziercke added that judgements had been passed in 26 high-profile court cases since 2003.
Security agents believe there are more than 1,000 militant Islamists in Germany who are prepared to resort to violence, and know of more than 220 people who have received paramilitary training since the early 1990s.
The comments came as Germany is in the midst of a fierce debate about the role of Islam in society, and perceived integration problems experienced by Germany's estimated 4 million Muslims.
Ziercke also said that, since the 1990s, violent tendencies had almost doubled amongst right-wing extremists, who were estimated last year to number around 9,000 individuals.
"Every day, two to three violent xenophobic, anti-Semitic or racist acts of violence occur in Germany," the BKA president said.
He said more violent offences had been carried out by left-wing extremists than right-wing activists in the past five years, but added that these were less likely to be directed at people.
"Overall, the left-wing scene has become more active and willing to resort to violence." Ziercke said. As an example, he warned that violent anti-nuclear protests could be expected next month, when the next batch of spent uranium rods are to be deposited in a disused salt cavern in northern Germany.
The BKA also monitors violence and organized crime carried out by biker gangs, and investigated around 880 suspects in this context in 2009. Most of last year's cases involved bodily harm, blackmail and other threats, as well as three murder cases, Ziercke said.
Many of these groups were becoming increasingly active outside of Germany, where they were involved in drug smuggling, people trafficking and prostitution, Ziercke said, warning of "fierce power struggles with other biker gangs."