Islamist Terrorism in Germany: Threats, Responses, and the Need for a Strategy
Policy Report 66
One year after Germany’s largest jihadist terrorist attack, and only two years after Angela Merkel’s decision to open the country’s borders to nearly a million refugees and asylum-seekers, German policymakers are still struggling with how to maintain security and privacy within a federal system. It is part of a broader discussion of identity, values, and pragmatism that dominated the 2017 federal elections and continues to make waves throughout society.
This Policy Report examines the nature and the scope of the terrorist threat in Germany, a country whose Muslim population does not share the same characteristics as that in France or Great Britain, and how terrorist organizations sought to engage German Muslims in their cause. It discusses how the refugee crisis made the flow of terrorists from the Middle East to Germany easier, and how terrorists appealed to refugees fleeing to Europe to take up their fight. Finally, it looks at government responses to terrorism, identifying where new strategies are needed and where transatlantic cooperation is necessary. In the end, the author identifies five elements that will allow the German government to overhaul its domestic security and counterterrorism efforts: limit refugee numbers, centralize the security architecture, improve border controls, strengthen intelligence, and carry the fight to the enemy.