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Internal Security (May 22, 2006)

The annual report of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution aims to inform the citizenry about the main areas of political extremism. Federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble delivered the following speech on the occasion of the presentation of the 2005 report. The excerpted passages summarize the most significant developments in Islamic extremism and terrorism, and in right-wing extremism.

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Speech by Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble on the Occasion of the Presentation of the 2005 Report on the Protection of the Constitution on May 22, 2006, in Berlin

The recently published Protection of the Constitution Report for 2005 provides information on the extent of anti-constitutional developments and on organizations and groups that engage in activities opposing the free democratic order of the Federal Republic of Germany.

In keeping with the responsibilities of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the content of the report is diverse and far-reaching. I would like to make a few comments on some topics from three areas, Islamist extremism and terrorism, right-wing extremism, and espionage.

Stability and security in Europe, and therefore also in our country, have been threatened for years by Islamist terrorism. This threat continues undiminished. Germany is part of a worldwide area under threat, and our country is among the targets of Islamist terrorists.

Up to the present day there have been no attacks by Islamist terrorists in Germany, but there have been attacks against Germans abroad. It is thanks to the professional and judicious efforts of the German security agencies, including those of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, and the close cooperation with partner agencies that plans and preparatory actions could be discovered in time.

There is no reason for an all-clear signal or a lack of concern. In 2005, the number of Islamist organizations that are active in Germany grew from four to 28. The number of members and supporters of these organizations also increased slightly, from roughly 31,800 to 32,100.

We must be careful not to equate these figures with the far smaller milieu of violent terrorism. But it is also imperative that we take decisive steps against extremist endeavors that employ non-terrorist means to fight our value system. There cannot be room for a fundamentalist interpretation of the Sharia that eclipses the value system of our Basic Law.

This is why the interior ministries of the federal and state governments are taking executive action against the respective institutions and organizations as soon as there is concrete information on criminal and anti-constitutional activities.

[ . . . ]

Since combating terrorism will continue to be a long-term priority of our security policy in the foreseeable future, it is my goal to implement specific supplementary measures to further raise the existing security level.

We will take the steps that are necessary according to the evaluation of the Counter-Terrorism Act (TBG) by extending and supplementing the established powers through the draft bill for an amendment to the Counter-Terrorism Act (TBEG).

Acquiring and exchanging knowledge also involves the use of modern information technology, including shared data from police and intelligence services. To this end, the federal government will present a draft bill to establish a standardized, central anti-terror database and incident-specific project databases.

Furthermore, as provided for in the federalism reform, we will authorize the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation in clearly defined cases to take action to prevent the dangers of international terrorism. The present division of responsibilities – the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation may act only if there is an initial suspicion of activities subject to criminal proceedings, but defending against the dangers that precede those actions falls within the jurisdiction of the federal states – prolongs the response time and thus increases the danger of losing information.

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