German-Speaking Jihadists

Terrorists Put Germany in Crosshairs

epa05429146 A slow shutter-speed picture taken 16 July 2016 shows two young women as they hold each other in tears near the site of a casualty, flags flying half-mast in the background, on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France. According to reports at least 84 people died and many were injured after a truck drove into the crowd on the famous promenade during celebrations of Bastille Day in Nice, late 14 July. EPA/IAN LANGSDON (ALTERNATIVE IMAGE REPEAT) +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++
Following the attack in Nice, France, there has now been a spike in calls for similar attacks in Germany.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Terrorist attacks in France, Belgium and Germany have all of Europe on edge and there is growing concern about calls for attacks to be committed in Germany.

  • Facts


    • The current high concentration of messages calling for acts of violence in Germany is striking.
    • It isn’t clear who is posting the calls on the German-language internet – whether they are members of the Islamic State or just sympathizers.
    • Members of German security services are concerned that such messages could act as triggers for radicalized individuals.
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German-speaking supporters of the Islamic State terrorist group (IS) have recently increased their calls for acts of violence in Germany.

“For several days now we have been observing a definite increase in general as well as individual-related calls to kill people in German-language propaganda media, such as on the messaging service Telegram,” the director of the State Bureau of Investigation in Bremen, Daniel Heinke, told the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit.

This was underlined by a leading member of the German intelligence agency who said: “There has definitely been a recorded increase.” The spike is mostly on social media, with calls for attacks along the lines of, “‘it’s your turn now!’”

“The threat hasn’t been this great and complex since 2001. ”

Gilles de Kerchove, Counter-terrorism coordinator, European Union

This isn’t the first time that German-speaking jihadists have called for attacks in Germany – this was also seen in the past as a reaction to terrorist attacks elsewhere in Europe. But the current high concentration is striking.

The calls are for attacks on victims who are randomly chosen, as well as on specific people. To cite one example, under the heading “Kill the Imams of the Unbelievers” is a photo of a prominent German Salafist preacher who has repeatedly taken a stance against IS. “Wanted dead or dead” is written beneath the photo.

Elsewhere, it says willing assassins should, for example, attack drunks. The IS sympathizers are also urged to follow the examples of assassins who in recent months have carried out attacks in the name of IS in Europe, such as the man who drove a truck into a crowd of people in Nice. Instant entry into paradise is promised as a reward.

It’s continually stressed how easy and simple it is to carry out an attack – exactly as it is said to be in the calls by IS leaders. Abu Mohammad al-Adnani, the IS spokesman who was recently killed by a U.S. drone, had urged followers of the group to carry out attacks, even using the most primitive of means – “Torch their fields” – when necessary.


call for terrorist attack dpa
An excerpt from a propaganda video. Source: DPA


It isn’t clear who the people are sending out the calls on the German-language internet – whether they are members of IS or sympathizers. Members of German security services, however, are concerned that such calls could act as a trigger for radicalized individuals.

IS spokesman Al-Adnani, who was suspected of being in charge of the planning of attacks outside Syria and Iraq, repeatedly declared that all states in the international anti-IS coalition are targets – and that includes Germany.

This year, two terrorist attackers struck in Germany in the name of IS and declared their acts of violence as retaliation. In July, an Afghan attacked a group of tourists on a regional train near Würzburg with an ax; he was subsequently shot by police. In the same month in Ansbach, a Syrian killed himself, apparently by accident, when he was trying to deposit an explosive device outside a wine bar.

Western terror analysts assume Islamic State is employing a multi-pronged tactic. The IS department for external security in the areas it occupies in Syria plans attacks in the West; the November 2015 bloodbath in Paris, for example, falls into this category. The group also is counting on IS sympathizers to heed the calls for violence and independently plan and carry out attacks – as was likely the case in Nice. Meanwhile, a number of cases are known in which IS cells have used the internet or phones to advise such sympathizers in their planning. This was also the case with the attacks in Ansbach and Würzburg.

Gilles de Kerchove, the European Union’s counter-terrorism coordinator, recently said at a conference in Israel: “The threat hasn’t been this great and complex since 2001.”


This article originally appeared in Die Zeit. To contact the author:

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