Almost four years after the Islamist terrorist attack on Breitscheidplatz in Berlin and the most recent attacks in Paris and Vienna, the risk of a jihadist-motivated act of violence in the German capital remains high, according to the Berlin internal administration.
“We have to expect another attack at any time, in our streets and also in our squares,” said State Secretary Torsten Akmann (SPD) on Wednesday in the House of Representatives’ Committee for the Protection of the Constitution. There is a “persistently high risk situation.”
The terrorist attacks in Paris and Vienna have also shown that capital cities are repeatedly in the focus of Islamist attackers because of their symbolic power, Akmann explained.
470 violent Salafists in Berlin
Of 1140 people who are assigned to the Salafist scene in Berlin by the internal administration, 470 are considered to be violence-oriented. Islamist, jihadist and Salafist perpetrators acting alone represented the greatest risk factor for the security authorities. In addition, there is the enormous potential for radicalization through caricatures of the prophet Mohammed.
In October, an 18-year-old Islamist beheaded a history teacher in a Paris suburb. The 45-year-old had previously shown caricatures of the prophet in a class on freedom of expression. According to the Office for the Protection of the Constitution in the capital, this act has not yet been commented on in the Berlin scene. Apparently, people hold back for fear of recognizability, it said.
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The assassin Anis Amri had hijacked a truck in Berlin on December 19, 2016 and killed the driver. Then the Tunisian raced with the vehicle across the Christmas market at the Memorial Church. Eleven other people died and dozen were injured. Amri was later shot dead by police in Italy.
After the attack, the interior administration set up an independent unit on Islamist terrorism in 2017. According to Akmann, the risk posed by individual people is now being increasingly assessed. The police and the Office for the Protection of the Constitution regularly exchanged information.