German counter-intelligence head says right-wing extremism and terrorism are the country's biggest threat
Right-wing extremism and terrorism are the biggest threat to democracy and security in Germany, according to Thomas Haldenwang, the head of the country's counter-intelligence service, who made that statement during a public hearing of the heads of German's three intelligence services convened by an oversight committee in the national legislature recently. "The deterioration of the situation in the area of right-wing extremism is leading to the commission of the worst criminal activity and it is necessary for us to continue to count on that being the case," he said.
Haldenwang recalled the attack in February in Hanau near Frankfurt during which a 43-year-old German right-wing extremist suffering from mental problems shot dead nine people of immigrant origin. The counter-intelligence chief also mentioned two attacks committed last year by right-wing extremists that also cost lives.
The negative development can be documented in numbers, according to the head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), as the German civilian counter-intelligence service is officially named. The number of people whom the German authorities identify as belonging to the radical right of the spectrum rose last year by one-third to roughly 32 000.
About 13 000 of those people, according to Haldenwang, are prepared to use violence. The situation on the left-wing part of the radical spectrum is also not an easy one to address, in his view.
The number of left-wing extremists rose by 4.7 % in 2019 to 33 500, and 9 200 of them are considered potentially violent. As for extremist Islamists, "Our combating of Islamist terrorism has become more quiet because we are able to intervene against it at an early stage with great energy and expertise behind the scenes," Haldenwang noted, adding that federal authorities have managed to prevent all of the attacks planned by Islamists in Germany since August 2017.
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