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Security Protection of the Constitution Press release 2017.07.06 Re­port on the Pro­tec­tion of the Con­sti­tu­tion

The number of violent extremists rose in 2016

The number of violent extremists in Germany significantly increased last year, according to the 2016 Report on the Protection of the Constitution presented today by Federal Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maizière and President Hans-Georg Maaßen of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution.

Shifting power with Islamism

The growing influence of violent or jihadist Salafists within Islamist circles continues in 2017. As Federal Minister de Maizière explained at the presentation, “Almost all violent Islamists are influenced by Salafism. So they are rooted in a milieu which advocates a model that is the complete opposite of Western society. The continuing growth of these groups shows that Salafism remains dynamic. This threat demands firm intervention from the state.”

Record number of violent right-wing extremists

The domestic intelligence services estimated the size of the right-wing extremist scene last year at 12,100 persons, more than half of whom they considered willing to use violence. This is the largest number ever recorded and is reflected in the number of violent crimes committed by right-wing extremists in 2016. After significant growth in 2015, the number of violent crimes increased even further last year, to 1,600, up from 1,408 in 2015 and 990 in 2014.

More left-wing extremists

The number of crimes, including violent crimes, by left-wing extremists was lower in 2016, as there were fewer events that left-wing extremists could use to mobilize large, interregional protests. On the other hand, the number of potential left-wing extremists increased by 7% to 28,500, up from 26,700 in 2015, to its highest level since 2012. More than 10% of this number were considered willing to use violence. Referring to this trend, Federal Minister de Maizière said, “We do not expect any reduction in the number of politically motivated crimes in 2017. The left-wing extremist scene has been intensively mobilizing its supporters to oppose the G20 summit in Hamburg already since autumn 2016. The ability to protest is a fundamental right in our democracy. But I call on everyone to protest peacefully! If that is not the case, the security authorities will take clear and decisive action."

Federal Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maizière and President Hans-Georg Maaßen of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution.Enlarge image Federal Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maizière and President Hans-Georg Maaßen of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. Source: BMI / Henning Schacht

“Reichsbürger” and “Selbstverwalter” as a separate phenomenon

The 2016 report treated “Reichsbürger” (“citizens of the Reich”) and “Selbstverwalter” (“self-governers”) as a separate phenomenon for the first time. About 12,800 people make up the “Reichsbürger” and “Selbstverwalter” scene, including about 800 right-wing extremists. The scene, which denies the legitimacy of the Federal Republic of Germany, is extremely heterogeneous in terms of both organization and ideology. “Reichsbürger” are very interested in weapons and are often willing to use violence. Based on a preliminary estimate of the domestic intelligence services, 700 of them had weapons permits as of late 2016. Federal Minister de Maizière therefore instructed the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and the Federal Criminal Police Office to share their information on “Reichsbürger” with the state-level offices responsible for issuing weapons permits. Initial results are already apparent: About 100 weapons permits were withdrawn by early June 2017.

Extremism by foreigners also increased

The number of followers of non-Islamist, security-relevant or extremist foreigners’ organizations also increased in 2016, especially due to growth in the number of right-wing extremists of Turkish origin. Federal Minister de Maizière said, “Now more than ever, events within Turkey have an impact in Germany. In addition to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and various Turkish left-wing terrorist groups, there are now a significant number of organized Turkish right-wing extremists. The resulting tension is marked by high emotions, verbal provocation and – so far limited – physical confrontations.”

Following the failed putsch attempt in Turkey, the counterintelligence units of Germany’s domestic intelligence agencies noted an increase in activities by Turkish intelligence services in Germany. Speaking about these activities, the federal minister said, “I would like to make it very clear that Germany will not tolerate spying or intelligence activities of any kind. All suspected illegal intelligence activity will be thoroughly investigated.”

Further information: www.verfassungsschutz.de

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