Germany cracks down on citizens fighting abroad

#Germany

Interior minister Thomas de Maiziere announces measures including plans to strip dual nationals fighting abroad of German citizenship

German security authorities have been on high alert after a spate of attacks (AFP)
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Thursday 11 August 2016 13:56 UTC
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The German government plans to strip the citizenship of Germans with dual nationality who fight for organisations designated as "terror" groups.

Speaking on Thursday, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said: "Germans who participate in fighting abroad for a terror militia and who have another citizenship, should lose their German nationality"  in comments reported by AFP.

'Germans who participate in fighting abroad for a terror militia and who have another citizenship, should lose their German nationality'

Maiziere also announced plans to make being a "threat to public security" reason for foreign suspects to be deported. Last week German counter-terrorist policy adviser Daniel Heinke said that the government estimates that 820 citizens have travelled to Syria "out of an Islamist motivation." It is estimated around a third of these have since returned to the country.

Police numbers are also be increased, Maiziere said, with the introduction of 4,600 new posts. Spending on security-related issues will increase by $2.24bn by 2020.

Germany is on high alert after a spate of attacks since July that have left 15 people dead, including four attackers, and dozens injured. Two of the attackers, a Syrian asylum seeker and a refugee from either Pakistan or Afghanistan, had links to Islamic militancy, officials say.

On Wednesday police carried out raids in several towns in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia targeting Islamic preachers suspected of trying to recruit young men to fight in Syria and Iraq on Wednesday, the state's criminal police said. The raids took place in the towns of Duisburg and Dortmund among others, the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ) newspaper reported.

Opposition to putting army on the streets

The measures build on a nine-point plan to improve security announced by Chancellor Angela Merkel in the wake of the attack. Next week Maiziere is expected to sign off on a further security announcement with regional interior ministers from Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union and sister party Christian Social Union.

The declaration will call for even more security measure, according to the RND media group, including a ban on the wearing of the face veil, an end to the financing of mosques by extremist groups and the expulsion of foreign “hate” preachers.

But discussions about putting the army on the streets to boost security have drawn opposition from many in Germany.



Angela Merkel, German Chancellor

'It is now time to carry out exercises on major terror situations... which can involve the armed forces under the leadership of police'

Merkel has previously said that: "It is now time to carry out exercises on major terror situations... which can involve the armed forces under the leadership of police."

But the country is still grappling with the use of the military under Nazi rule more than 70 years ago, when the army took on a domestic policing role, ruthlessly supressing Jews, Roma and other communities.

The country’s current post-war constitution prevents military forces being used at home unless in exceptional circumstances, for example giving humanitarian relief during disasters or if there is a threat against "the free democratic order of the federal state". An estimated 66 % of the population oppose the move, according to a poll by the weekly Die Zeit

Merkel last week warned that Germany was locked in “a struggle, or a war, if you like” with IS and called for an "early warning system" to detect signs of radicalisation among refugees.

"I didn’t say this was a going to be simple - that we could just do it," she said. "But I am still convinced that we can do it. This is a historic test in a time of globalisation.”