BLUF: A series of revelations about German failures to prevent Islamic State operations within the country raise questions about their ability and willingness to effectively combat terror. The string of intelligence fiascoes in 2016 comes as documents from Wikileaks show that Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees had a policy of admitting migrants who were a known terror risk with the intention of recruiting them as informants over a decade and a half ago.
In the aftermath of the recent December 2016 Berlin truck attack, reports have emerged that German intelligence received prior warnings about the likelihood that an incident was due to occur but failed to take action. On December 22nd, 2016, Moroccan World News revealed that Morocco had warned German intelligence officials in September 2016 that Berlin truck attacker Anis Amri had jihadist tendencies and was known to have sworn allegiance to the Islamic State. On October 11th, they gave German intelligence a second tip that Amri had been residing in Germany illegally for 14 months and that he was regularly meeting with two known members of ISIS who were described as “dangerous.” German officials do no appear to have acted on either tip from their Moroccan counterparts.
The article further explained that Spanish and French authorities have successfully dismantled terror cells based on information passed to them by Moroccan intelligence in the past. Why Germany failed to heed a tip from an intelligence source which had a proven track record of assisting anti-terror operations in other European states is unknown.
This series of failures to properly investigate Anis Amri and prevent the Berlin truck attack came on the heels of November 2016 reports that an intelligence officer working for Germany’s internal intelligence agency, the Bundesverfassungsschutz (BfV) was arrested for taking part in a plot to bomb the BfV’s headquarters in Cologne, Germany. This news was given little to no attention by U.S. media. German news source Der Spiegel reported on November 29th, 2016 that the 51 year-old intelligence officer made a “partial confession” to his role in plotting the attack following his arrest.
These drastic intelligence failures come on the heels of the discovery of a document from the Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge (BAMF) or Federal Office for Migration and Refugees in Wikileaks’ recent BND-NSA Inquiry Exhibit. The document reveals criteria for tips that the BAMF was giving in the early 2000’s to German intelligence agencies looking to recruit informants from among refugee populations:
The significant portions of this document are as follows:
On page 14:
We’re looking for accomplices or candidates involved in terrorist activities that have not yet become perpetrators
They were specifically looking for Taliban defectors from Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan as well as civilians born in Afghanistan, Egypt, and other Middle Eastern countries.
On pages 15-16 they list tiers of individuals they are looking to recruit from:
Tier 1: Males with the following personal features: Aged 18-45, single, lower-middle-class to poor background, lived in refugee camps for a while, poor occupational and societal prospects, sketchy CV, Muslim belief, doesn’t support UMMA (collective community of Islamic peoples).
Tier 2: Individuals with knowledge about suspected terrorist organizations.
Tier 3: Individuals that resided in or have knowledge about Al-Azher University, Cairo, or the El-Haramein Institute of Culture which is founded by Saudi Arabia and used to promote Wahabbism, the Islamic sect that most jihadist groups draw upon for their ideology.
This is highly alarming, because it indicates that German intelligence has in the past been aware of the fact that there are individuals among the refugee population that have knowledge of terror organizations, are “defectors” from them, or have been exposed to radical Islamic ideologies at certain educational institutions.
On August 16, 2016 Angela Merkel insisted in a speech that “the phenomenon of the Islamist terrorism of ISIS is not a phenomenon that has come to us through refugees but rather one which we’ve already had here before.”