Germanys Role in Fighting Terrorism: Implications for U.S. Policy
CRS Report for Congress
Germany’s Role in Fighting Terrorism:
Implications for U.S. Policy
December 27, 2004
Francis T. Miko
Specialist in International Relations
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
Germany’s Role in Fighting Terrorism:
Implications for U.S. Policy
This report examines Germany’s response to global Islamic terrorism after the
September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States. It looks at current German strategy,
domestic efforts, and international responses, including possible gaps and
weaknesses. It examines the state of U.S.-German cooperation, including problems
and prospects for future cooperation. This report may be updated as needed.
Although somewhat overshadowed in the public view by the strong and vocal
disagreements over Iraq policy, U.S.-German cooperation in the global fight against
international terrorism has been extensive. German support is particularly important
because several Al Qaeda members and 9/11 plotters lived there and the country is
a key hub for the transnational flow of persons and goods. Domestically, Germany
faces the challenge of having a sizable population of Muslims, some with extremist
views, whom terrorists might seek to recruit.
German counterterrorism strategy shares a number of elements with that of the
United States, although there are clear differences in emphasis. Like the United
States, Germany now sees radical Islamic terrorism as its primary national security
threat and itself as a potential target of attack. Today, Germany also recognizes that
threats to its domestic security lie far beyond its own borders, in places such as
Germany has introduced a number of policy, legislative, and organizational
reforms since 9/11 to make the country less hospitable to potential terrorists. Despite
these reforms, critics point to continuing problems hampering Germany’s domestic
efforts. German law enforcement and intelligence communities face more
bureaucratic hurdles, stricter constraints, and closer oversight than those in many
The German government has sent troops into combat beyond Europe for the first
time since World War II. Currently Germany has about 7,800 troops based abroad
of which some forty percent are directly engaged in counterterror missions. In
Afghanistan, some 2,300 German soldiers participate in the International Security
Assistance Force (ISAF). Germany’s role in Afghanistan’s stabilization and
reconstruction is substantial. German military efforts have been hampered to some
extent by delays in implementing military reforms to make German forces more
A key question for U.S. German relations is whether differences on issues such
as Iraq policy — shaped by different national interests, practices, and historical
experiences — will harm U.S.-German cooperation against terrorism. Some believe
that understanding and accepting these differences (agreeing to disagree) may be the
best approach to enhancing future U.S.-German cooperation in the global war on
terrorism. Both countries have strong incentives to make the cooperation work.
Germany’s Anti-Terrorism Policy after 9/11.............................2
Key Elements of German Strategy ................................2
Reform Measures Implemented...............................4
Possible Issues and Problems.................................7
Reconstruction and Foreign Aid.............................12
U.S.-German Bilateral Cooperation: Status, Problems, and Prospects ........12
Appendix A (Organization Chart)....................................17
Appendix B (Germany’s Post-9/11 Reforms)...........................18
Germany’s Role in Fighting Terrorism:
Implications for U.S. Policy
Historically, Germany’s experience with terrorism has been predominantly with
domestic groups. Since the 1970s, Germany has demonstrated both the willingness
and capability to combat domestic sources of terrorism. After the attacks of
September 11, 2001, however, it became apparent to many within and outside
Germany that its traditional approaches were ill-suited to dealing with the new threat
of transnational, radical Islamic terrorism. Terrorists’ use of German territory to
hatch the 9/11 plot served as a wake up call for many. Three of the hijackers lived
and plotted in Hamburg and other parts of Germany for several years,1 taking
advantage of liberal asylum policies and the low levels of surveillance by authorities.
The German response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the United States was
immediate and unprecedented in scope for that country. Setting aside its post-World
War II prohibition against deploying forces outside of Europe and overcoming
pacifist leanings of some in the governing coalition, Germany quickly offered
military and other assistance to the United States. In his initial reaction to the attacks
of 9/11, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder declared Germany’s “unlimited solidarity”
with the United States. On September 12, 2001, the German government, along with
other U.S. allies, invoked NATO’s Article V, paving the way for military assistance
to the United States. The Chancellor gained approval from the German Parliament
to deploy troops to Afghanistan with a call for a vote of confidence in his own
Since then, German efforts in the fight against terrorism have expanded across
a wide spectrum. Germany has instituted significant policy, legislative, and
organizational reforms. Bilateral cooperation with the United States has been
extensive, despite differences stemming from the distinct approaches and constraints
in each country and frictions resulting from sharp disagreement over Iraq policy.
The following sections examine the German domestic and international
response to terrorism after 9/11 and potential issues and problems regarding the
German approach. They assess the accomplishments of U.S.-German cooperation,
as well as problems and future prospects.
1 Bundesamt fuer Verfassungsschutz: Aufgaben, Befugnisse, Grenzen, 2002, p. 62. Available
on the website for the German Federal Bureau for the Protection of the Constitution (in
Germany’s Anti-Terrorism Policy after 9/11
Key Elements of German Strategy
Germany’s counterterrorism strategy shares a number of elements with that of
the United States, although there are clear differences in emphasis: Key elements
!Identifying terrorists and their supporters, bringing them to justice,
and breaking up their infrastructure at home and abroad.
!Assisting countries facing the danger of becoming failed states.
!Addressing the social, economic, and cultural roots of terrorism.
!Halting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
!Seeking multilateral legitimization for any military action through
the United Nations.
Significantly, Germany now sees radical Islamic terrorism as its primary security
threat and itself as a potential target of attack.3 Although German citizens have not
been directly targeted by radical Islamic terrorism to date, they frequently have been
its victims. Since September 11, 2001, more German citizens have died as victims
of Islamic terrorist attacks than in the entire history of domestic violence by the Red
Army Faction (RAF), a German terrorist group that operated for over thirty years.4
Germany has responded to the fact that it was a center for the planning of the
attacks of 9/11. Key figures in the attacks were part of a Hamburg cell and the
evidence suggests that terrorist cells, even before 9/11, saw Germany as one of the
easier places in Europe from which to operate. Terrorists were able to take advantage
of Germany’s liberal asylum laws, as well as strong privacy protections, and rights
of religious expression which shielded activities in Islamic Mosques from
surveillance by authorities.
2 Statements by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder (Government Policy Statement for the second
term of office, October 30, 2002; speech on the 58th Session of the United Nations General
Assembly, September 24, 2003); “Focal Points of Anti-terrorism”, German Interior Ministry
website (in German)
[http://www.bmi.bund.de/top/sonstige/Schwerpunkte/Innere_Sicherheit/T erro r i s mu s / i x 9
3 Statement of the Minister of the Interior, Otto Schily, during press conference of issuing
the “Verfassungschutzbericht 2003” at May 17, 2004.
4 This would include, for instance, those Germans who died in the World Trade Center on
9/11, and in the terrorist bombings in recent years in Bali, Djerba/Tunisia etc. Eleven
Germans are believed to have died in the World Trade Center attack. The bombing of a
Tunisian synagogue in April 2002, reportedly linked to Al Qaeda, killed 21 people,
including 14 Germans.
In its efforts to combat terrorism, Germany has emphasized the need to ensure
that all of its domestic and international actions are consistent with the country’s
own laws, values and historical lessons of the Nazi era. Germany has given high
priority to the protection of the civil rights and liberties of all those residing in
Germany, including non-citizens. Germans stress that this long-standing emphasis
on civil rights should not be seen as a lack of political will to target terrorists today.5
However, some observers are concerned that the German interpretation of its civil
rights requirements could hinder the capture and prosecution of important terror
Although Germany has contributed troops to international operations, German
officials do not believe that military force can serve as the principal instrument to
fight terrorism and do not even like to use the term “war” to describe the
international response to global terrorism. Germany tends to stress “soft power”
instruments such as diplomacy, development assistance, and addressing issues that
can give rise to terrorism: “Providing support for modernization, resolving bitter
regional conflicts, rebuilding shattered structures is just as important as the work
being done by the military, the police and the secret services”, according to Foreign
Minister Joschka Fischer.6 Chancellor Schroeder has said that “the foremost task of
international politics is to prevent wars”7 and that Germany seeks peaceful resolution
of international disputes as a guiding principle. Some critics, however see Germany’s
stance against the use of force as unrealistic, particularly when facing hard core
Islamic terrorist groups and “rogue” states.
Germany also sees itself as limited in its ability to respond militarily to the
threat of terrorism abroad both by its historical experience and by the fact that upon
the reunification of the two Germanies in 1990, Germany formally pledged to use its
military forces only within the framework of the UN Charter.
Although Germany supported the UN-sanctioned intervention in Afghanistan
to root out the Taliban and al Qaeda, the German government strongly opposed the
U.S. policy of broadening the war against terrorism to a war against Iraq. Chancellor
Schroeder argued that “those who want to resolve the crisis with military means must
have an answer to the question of whether this will help the global alliance against
terrorism, which includes about fifty Moslem states, or whether it will jeopardize
this alliance, or perhaps even destroy it.”8 From Germany’s perspective, the war in
Iraq is intensifying the terrorist threat.9
Despite differences over Iraq, Germany is viewed as a key partner in the global
war on terrorism. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Germany has redefined its security
5 CRS Report RL31612, European Counter terrorist Efforts: Political Will and Diverse
Responses within the First Year after September 11, October 17, 2002, p. 40-42.
6 Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer before the German Parliament in November 2003.
7 Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Policy Statement “Our Responsibility for Peace,” February
9 Minister of the Interior Otto Schily in Der Spiegel, April 26, 2004.
strategy and foreign policy.10 Today, Germany perceives threats to its domestic
security that lie far beyond its own borders. The so-called “Struck-Doctrine”11 states
that Germany’s security is now defended in places far removed from its borders, such
as in Afghanistan.
Germany’s global economic position makes counterterrorism an important
German foreign policy concern. Alongside security concerns, Germany has extensive
economic interests worldwide that it believes are now potentially threatened by
terrorism. As one of the world’s largest exporting nations, Germany exports nearly
50% of its goods to non-EU (European Union) countries.12 Furthermore, Germany
imports 98% of its natural gas and oil from abroad. Germany views secure trade
routes and markets as vital to its economic security. Thus, global stability and
combating terrorism are connected in German foreign policy.
Reform Measures Implemented. The German government has taken
extensive domestic measures against terrorism since 9/11, in the legal, law
enforcement, financial, and security realms. The first step taken was to identify
weaknesses in the laws that allowed some of the terrorists to live and plot in
Germany largely unnoticed.
After 9/11, Germany adopted two major anti-terrorism packages. The first,
approved in November 2001, targeted loopholes in German law that permitted
terrorists to live and raise money in Germany. Significant changes included (1) The
immunity of religious groups and charities from investigation or surveillance by
authorities was revoked, as were their special privileges under right of assembly,
allowing the government greater freedom to act against extremist groups; (2)
terrorists could now be prosecuted in Germany, even if they belonged to foreign
terrorist organizations acting only abroad; (3) the ability of terrorists to enter and
reside in Germany was curtailed; and 4) border and air traffic security were
The second package was aimed at improving the effectiveness and
communication of intelligence and law enforcement agencies at the federal and state
levels. Some $1.8 billion was made immediately available for new counterterrorism
measures. In fiscal years 2002 and 2003, the budget for relevant security and13
intelligence authorities was increased by about $580 million. The new laws
provided the German intelligence and law enforcement agencies greater latitude to
gather and evaluate information, as well as to communicate and share information
with each other and with law enforcement authorities at the state level.
10 According to Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s Government Policy Statement, October 11,
11 Statement by Minister of Defense Peter Struck, November 2002.
12 Ministry of Economics and Labor: Jahreswirtschaftsbericht 2004.
13 According to an interview with Gerhard Schindler, Head of Counterterrorism Section
within the Ministry of the Interior, July 28, 2004.
The most important intelligence authorities in Germany are the Federal
Intelligence Service (BND),14 the Federal Bureau for the Protection of the
Constitution (BfV),15 and the Military Counterintelligence Service (MAD).16 The
most important security authorities are the Federal Bureau of Criminal Investigation
(BKA)17 and the Federal Border Guard (BGS). (For a more detailed picture of the
organizational structure, see Appendix A.)
Since the approval of these laws, further measures have been instituted. For
instance, aviation security has been increased by placing armed security personnel
and installing bullet- and entry-proof cockpit doors on German planes. Full
inspection of all luggage is now mandatory at German airports.
As elsewhere in Europe, the presence of Germany’s large Muslim population
also influences anti-terror policies. Germany has a strong record of tolerance and
protecting Muslim religious freedoms. However, the government is determined to
go after Muslim extremists. Profiling is considered an acceptable means for
identifying likely terrorists under German law.
The government launched a major effort to identify and eliminate terrorist cells.
Germany’s recent annual “Report on the Protection of the Constitution 2003”18
indicated that about 31,000 German residents are thought to be members of Islamic
organizations with extremist ties. Shortly after the 9/11 attacks the government
moved against twenty religious groups and conducted more that 200 raids.19 Three
radical Islamic organizations are now banned in Germany (i.e., Kalifatstaat, Al-Aksa
e.V., and Hizb-ut-Tahrir). Currently, the German Justice Ministry is involved in 80
preliminary proceedings related to Islamic terrorism against 170 suspects.20 Since
February 2004, the German government has prosecuted members of a splinter group
of the Iraqi Tawhid and Jihad (referred to as the Al Tawhid case in Germany). This
terrorist group is accused of having prepared attacks against Israeli facilities in
Germany; some members were caught in April 2002. Reportedly, they had
14 The BND is limited to gathering intelligence abroad.
15 The BfV gathers domestic intelligence. Within the BfV the following terrorism-related
analysis-boards have been established: “Arab Mujaheden Training Camps,” “Travel
Movements,” and “Recruitment” (According to an interview with Gerhard Schindler, Head
of the Counterterrorism Section within the Ministry of the Interior, July 28, 2004).
16 The MAD is charged with gathering intelligence to assure readiness of the German
17 Within the BKA the following terrorism-related information-boards have been
established: “Financial Investigations”, “Human Trafficking and Drug Crime “, “Narco
Terrorism”, “Arab Mujaheden Networks” (According to an interview with Gerhard
Schindler, Head of Counterterrorism Section within the Ministry of the Interior, July 28,
18 See website Ministry of the Interior (in German)
[http://www.bmi.bund.de/Annex/de_25544/Download.pdf], released on May 17, 2004.
19 Katzstein, Peter J.: “Same War - Different Views: Germany, Japan, and
Counterterrorism,” in: International Organization, Vol. 57, No. 4, 2003, p. 731-760.
20 Minister of Justice Brigitte Zypries in Sueddeutsche Zeitung, June 11, 2004.
connections to Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, head of the Iraqi Tawhid and Jihad, and also
affiliated with Al Qaeda.
With the legislative reforms giving it the authority to lead its own investigations
and with increased law enforcement capacity, the BKA has placed some 250 to 300
suspects who are thought to have links to international terror networks under
surveillance.21 Shortly after 9/11, German authorities conducted a computer-aided
search of the type that had proven successful in profiling and eventually dismantling
the Red Army Faction in the 1990s. Reportedly, this effort uncovered a number of
radical Islamic “sleepers” in Germany, and a “considerable number of investigations”
have been started.22
In the financial area, new measures against money laundering were announced
in October 2001. A new office within the Ministry of Interior was charged with
collecting and analyzing information contained in financial disclosures. Procedures
were set up to better enforce asset seizure and forfeiture laws.23 German authorities
were given wider latitude in accessing financial data of terrorist groups. Steps were
taken to curb international money laundering and improve bank customer screening
procedures. The Federal Criminal Police Office set up an independent unit
responsible for the surveillance of suspicious financial flows. Measures to prevent
money laundering now include the checking of electronic data processing systems to
ensure that banks are properly screening their clients’ business relationships and
following the requirement to set up internal security systems.
In seeking to dry up the sources of terrorist financing, new laws24 are aimed at
strengthening Germany’s own capabilities, as well as German cooperation with the
broader international effort. Under the oversight of the German Federal Banking
Supervisory Office, banks, financial service providers and others must monitor all
financial flows for illegal activity. Within the BKA, a Financial Intelligence Unit
(FIU) was established to serve as Germany’s central registration office for money
laundering as well as a main contact point for foreign authorities. Germany was the
first country to implement an EU guideline against money laundering as well as the
recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering
(FATF).25 The FATF has characterized Germany’s anti-money laundering regulations
as comprehensive and effective.26
21 Die Zeit, May 6, 2004 (“Ueberforderte Ermittler”).
22 According to an interview with Gerhard Schindler, Head of the Counterterrorism Section
within the Ministry of the Interior, July 28, 2004.
23 U.S. Department of State. Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement
Affairs. International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, March 2002. Chapter 12, p.117-
24 4th Financial Market Promotion Act, effective since July 1, 2002; amended Law against
Money Laundering, effective since August 15, 2002.
25 see website Federal Bureau of Criminal Investigation (in German)
[http://www.bundeskrimi nalamt .de/profil/zentralstellen/fiu/fiu_j ahresbericht_2002.pdf].
26 Dow Jones VWD Newswire, (“Deutsche Massnahmen zur Geldwaeschebekaempfung
Additional measures are being implemented by Germany. A new aviation
security law is under consideration which would allow the military to shoot down
threatening hijacked aircraft.27 A new immigration law makes it easier to deport
suspected foreigners and makes naturalization more difficult.28 In early July 2004,
federal and state Ministers of the Interior implemented some key organizational
changes: 1) a central database will now collect and store all available information
regarding Muslim radicals suspected of terrorism; 2) a joint Coordination Center
consisting of the BKA, BND, BfV and MAD will seek to cooperate more closely to
prevent terrorist attacks; and 3) German federal states will be integrated into the
Germany’s approach to terrorism is influenced by its geographic position in the
heart of Europe and its membership in the European Union. Germany has two
borders, its own and the EU border within which it sees its economic and security
future. EU procedures and the EU jurisdiction in certain areas affect the domestic
affairs of its member states. A lot of basic anti-terrorism measures — for instance
EU definitions of terrorism, terrorist organizations and common penalties, border
control within the Schengen System, the EU-wide arrest warrant and the EU-wide
asset freezing order — are governed by EU legislation.
Possible Issues and Problems. Despite Germany’s sweeping reforms,
critics point to continuing problems hampering Germany’s domestic efforts. As a
result of the emphasis on guarding civil liberties, the German law enforcement and
intelligence communities face more bureaucratic hurdles, stricter constraints, and
closer oversight than those in many other countries. They are required to operate
with greater transparency. Privacy rights of individuals and the protection of personal
data are given prominent attention. These protections are extended to non-citizens
residing in Germany as well. Police are prohibited from collecting intelligence and
can only begin an investigation when there is probable cause that a crime has been
committed. Thus, no legal recourse exists against suspected “dangerous persons,”29
until a case can be made of a felony or its planning. In turn, intelligence agencies
cannot make arrests and information collected covertly cannot be used in court.
Although the ease of entry of terrorists into Germany and their movement has
been significantly curtailed, suspects already living in Germany are able to take
advantage of apparent weaknesses in German law. Academic and job training
umfassend”) July 21, 2004.
27 This is awaiting approval by the Bundesrat. Apparently it does not enjoy support from the
CDU/CSU opposition. If approved, the law would allow the military to shoot down hijacked
airplanes assessed as threats. The Minister of Defense would be in charge of issuing the
28 This was approved on July 9, 2004 and will be effective on January 1, 2005. Major
changes include suspected foreigners can be expelled faster and with fewer hurdles; before
naturalization, applicants will be investigated and certified by the Federal Bureau of the
Protection of the Constitution; and the automatic right of relatives of applicants to remain
in Germany has been revoked.
29 This is the current state of the German penal code.
programs, as well as the granting of asylum, have allowed potential terrorists to
obtain extended residency permits.30 Some terrorists may have married into German
citizenship. Second generation immigrants possess citizenship and serve as a
potential recruitment pool. The new immigration law, which becomes effective in
January 2005, is expected to close some loopholes.31
Authorities have arrested, interviewed, and searched the homes of a number of
suspects but released them for lack of evidence.32 Similarly, the number of asset
seizures and forfeitures in Germany has remained relatively low because of the high
burden of proof under German law.33
Another problem relates to Germany’s organizational framework for fighting
terrorism. No central agency or person is in charge of overseeing and coordinating
all anti-terrorism and counterterrorism efforts.34 Opinions differ on whether greater
centralization would be beneficial or harmful. Moreover, the most important
domestic security and intelligence authorities, the BKA and BfV, are divided into one
federal and 16 state bureaus each. The state bureaus work independently of each
other and independently of the federal bureaus.35 Furthermore, German law requires
a complete organizational separation of executive agencies such as the BKA and
federal state police agencies, as well as intelligence authorities such as the BfV.36 The
fact that automatic cooperation is not possible, increases the potential for information
loss.37 Cooperation is possible only in selected cases after formal requests have been
approved. An Information Board was recently established to facilitate such exchanges
30 Die Welt, May 24, 2004 (“Innenexperten mahnen Gesetzesaenderung an”).
31 After January 2005 the new Immigration Law will bring several changes: It will be
possible to expel extremist agitators or persons who were trained in Afghan terrorist camps,
even though they are not currently involved in any questionable activities. A “threat
assessment” of the suspects towards Germany’s security will be conducted. Although he had
wanted even stronger measures, the Minister of the Interior, Otto Schily, was not able to
overcome resistance from the CDU/CSU-opposition in the Bundesrat.
32 The New York Times, July 11, 2002.
33 U.S. Department of State. Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement
Affairs. International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, March 2002. Chapter 12, p.117-
34 The Ministry of the Interior could be seen as the central junction of counterterrorism
efforts due to the fact that BKA, BfV, BGS, Civil Defense and certain asylum procedure
agencies are subordinated to this Ministry. Beyond, no person or division is coordinating
the work of these authorities.
35 Bundesamt fuer Verfassungsschutz: Aufgaben, Befugnisse, Grenzen, 2002, p. 84.
Available on website Federal Bureau for the Protection of the Constitution (in German)
[ h t t p : / / www.ve r f a s s u n g s s c h u t z . d e / d e / publikationen/allgemeine_infos/abg/abg.pdf].
Apparently the state-bureaus are in charge of information and actions with a regional
reference and the BKA and BfV are in charge of nationwide measures.
36 Bundesamt fuer Verfassungsschutz: Aufgaben, Befugnisse, Grenzen, 2002, p. 86-87.
Available on website Federal Bureau for the Protection of the Constitution (in German)
[ ht t p: / / www.ve r f a ssungsschut z.de/ de/ publ i kat i onen/ al l gemei ne_i nf os/ a bg/ a bg.pdf ] .
37 According to interview with Gerhard Schindler, July 28, 2004.
and interaction between authorities in certain investigations.38 Recently, the decision
was made to establish a Coordination Center to improve cooperation among federal
and state-level authorities.
Eliminating remaining weaknesses in Germany’s domestic response may be
difficult. Many doubt that the German government will be able to institute
significant further changes to its institutional and legal structures, so long as
Germany does not suffer a large-scale attack. Already, the 16 federal states are
blocking proposals for tighter centralization at the federal level, not wanting to cede
authority.39 Yet, there have been indications of terrorist activities in individual states
with important international traffic hubs (e.g., airports, harbors) and large Muslim
populations.40 Some have suggested that the upcoming 2006 Soccer World Cup in
Germany, a potential target for terrorist attacks, might provide a catalyst for officials
and security experts to rethink legal and security measures and to gain support for
further steps to counter the terrorist threat.
The German international response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks also has many
elements. On September 12, 2001, the German government, along with other U.S.
allies, invoked NATO’s Article V, paving the way for military assistance to the
United States. Chancellor Schroeder gained parliamentary approval to deploy troops
to Afghanistan. Since then, Germany has contributed in a number of ways to the
international fight against terrorism. However, the German support has stopped short
of supporting U.S. actions in Iraq or playing a direct role there. The German
government has continued to oppose the war and occupation and to reject the linkage
between Iraq and the war on terrorism. Some highlights of German efforts follow.
Military. Currently Germany has about 7,800 troops based abroad.41 Some
forty percent of those troops are directly engaged in counterterror missions. Germany
is directly involved in five major counterterror missions as part of the global coalition
38 Within a weekly briefing in the Federal Chancellery the appropriated Ministries, the heads
of the BKA, BfV, BND, MAD and the Attorney General conduct strategic adjustments.
39 Minister of the Interior Otto Schily as well as Director of the BKA Joerg Zierke called for
merging the 16 state bureaus with their federal analog BKA and BfV respectively. in:
Sueddeutsche Zeitung, June 18, 2004.
40 Roughly 80% (in 2002) and 85% (in 2003) of suspicious money laundering cases detected
by the Financial Intelligence Unit originated in the states of Nordrhein-Westfalen, Bavaria,
Hessen, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Niedersachsen, Berlin and Hamburg (FIU Annual Report
2002, p. 25 and FIU Annual Report 2003, p. 11, respectively). A German news magazine
reported that Hamburg remains a German center of Islamic fundamentalism (Der Spiegel,
May 29, 2004 “Zwei Hochzeiten und 3000 Todesfaelle”).
41 As of June 1, 2004. Force levels are according to Colonel Carsten John Jacobson, Military
Attache at the German Embassy, Washington DC; see also German Embassy website (in
[ ht t p: / / www.ge r many-i nf o.or g/ r e l a unch/ i nf o/ a r c hi ve s/ backgr ound/ Bwehr _f act sheet .pdf ]
and website of the Bundeswehr (in German)
(see below). German costs for these military deployments are estimated at $3.5
billion for 2002 and 2003.42 In order to adjust German security strategy to the new
threat environment, the Ministry of Defense issued new “Defense Policy
Guidelines”43 in May 2003.
In the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, German crews participated in
Operation Noble Eagle patrolling North American airspace in NATO’s airborne early
warning aircraft (AWACS). Germany contributed one third of the squadrons’
personnel. This mission lasted until May 15, 2002.
Since January 2002, when the first German troops were deployed there,
Afghanistan has been central to Germany’s international military involvement.
Chancellor Schroeder has said he is willing to maintain this engagement
indefinitely.44 In Afghanistan, some 2,300 German soldiers participate in the
International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the Provincial Reconstruction
Team(PRT) missions in the region of Kunduz and Feizabad. From February until
August 2003, Germany and the Netherlands had joint command of ISAF. German
special forces units which participated in special operations in Afghanistan are now
on standby in Germany.45
German forces are part of two naval missions as well: One associated with
Operation Enduring Freedom (in the region around the Horn of Africa) and the other
with Active Endeavor (in the southeastern Mediterranean Sea and Straits of
Gibraltar). These multilateral missions are designed to gather intelligence about
possible terrorist activity in these regions, cut off terrorist supply channels, and
safeguard international shipping routes. Currently, some 720 German naval personnel
participate in these two missions. From May 2002 until October 2002, Germany took
command of allied naval forces in the Horn of Africa. Additionally, from February
2002 until July 2003, a Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical (NBC) detection unit with
up to 250 soldiers was deployed in Kuwait as part of Enduring Freedom.
However critics point out that German military efforts have been hampered by
the fact that, among major U.S. allies, German forces are presently among the least
quickly deployable due to delays in implementing military reforms and, specifically,
addressing a lack of airlift capacity. Delays and problems were encountered in
fulfilling the German force commitments in Afghanistan in part because the military
did not have the necessary transport planes and had to charter Ukrainian aircraft.
42 According to Master Sergeant Michael Ruess, Armed Forces Department, Bonn.
43 The new guidelines adjust Germany’s defense strategy to the changed security
environment after September 11, 2001. Even operations beyond NATO territory are possible
now. In the long run the guidelines could be the blueprint of reforms in the structure of the
Bundeswehr. See Ministry of Defense website
[http://www.bmvg.de/misc/pdf/sicherheit/030521_V PR-e nglish.pdf].
44 Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on the 58th Session of the United Nations General
Assembly, September 24, 2003.
45 See Bundeswehr website (in German)
[ h t t p : / / www.einsatz.bundeswehr.de/einsatz_a kt u e ll/oef_spezi al/ueberblick/ spez_ueb.php].
While Germany is implementing military reforms to make its armed forces more
expeditionary and committed to overcoming post-Cold War deficiencies, budget
shortfalls may delay these efforts.
Diplomacy. By hosting two international conferences on Afghanistan,
Germany has been engaged in establishing global support for that country’s post-war46
Within the United Nations, Germany supported a number of counterterror
resolutions, most notably the UN sanctions regime targeting members or associates
of Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Germany also ratified the UN International Convention
for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings. Germany has ratified all eleven UN anti-th
terror Conventions and is preparing legislation for the ratification of the 12
Convention against terrorist financing.47
At the European level, Germany is pressing to shorten the transition period
before new EU anti-terror legislation takes effect. Germany is working with other
countries to improve the Schengen-system (a system that allows passport-free travel
between participating EU member states — travel into or out of the EU-wide system
still requires traditional passports and visas) with photographs on visas and resident
permits. Moreover, Germany is pushing for the use of biometric identifiers on
passports, visas and resident permits, and for international standardization of these48
systems. Germany views itself as a driving force in European counterterrorism
efforts. Germany’s Interior Minister has said: “Maybe a few of the EU countries will
have to take the lead. After all, the pace cannot be set by the slowest, but by the
fastest and most determined.”49
Within the G8, a German initiative has led to the establishment of a working
group on biometrics. The U.S. has supported Germany’s proposal that G8 countries
develop joint standards for the deployment of air marshals.50 Germany has
coordinated its efforts to adopt measures against terrorism with the United States and
other G-8 member states.51
46 “UN Talks on Afghanistan in Bonn” in November/December, 2001; “Petersberg II
Conference” in December 2002; “International Conference on Afghanistan in Berlin” in
47 Even so, Germany was chided by the European Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Gijs
de Vries, for not ratifying earlier the UN resolution on terrorist financing (Sueddeutsche
Zeitung, May 21, 2004: “EU mahnt Deutschland zum Anti-Terror-Kampf”).
48 For further information on biometrics, see CRS Report RL32366, Terrorist Identification,
Screening, and Tracking Under Homeland Security Presidential Directive 6.
49 Otto Schily, Federal Minister of the Interior, Opening Remarks at 2004 Roundtable on
Transatlantic Cooperation in Homeland Security, May 10, 2004, Washington, D.C.
50 European Institute: Transatlantic Cooperation on Homeland Security and
Counterterrorism 2003 International Conference, Washington, DC, 2003.
51 According to interview with Gerhard Schindler, July 28, 2004.
Reconstruction and Foreign Aid. Foreign assistance and economic
development are integral parts of Germany’s security and foreign policy. As a
member of the German Federal Security Council, the Ministry of Economic
Cooperation and Development takes an active part in foreign policy decision-making.
The Schroeder Government unveiled a new plan for “Civil Crisis Prevention,52
Conflict Resolution, and Peace Consolidation,” in May 2004. Financial resources
for reconstruction and other foreign aid are constrained, however, by spending cuts
to deal with current German economic problems. Critics have argued that the plan
is underfunded.53 Nonetheless, Germany’s contribution remains important,
especially in Afghanistan. By the end of 2004, Germany will have contributed $384
million for the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Through 2008, Germany has promised54
$1.2 billion (non-monetary contributions not included). Germany is coordinating
and leading efforts to build the Afghan police forces.55 Despite its opposition to the
war in Iraq, Germany has contributed about $196 million toward the postwar effort
there. Moreover, at the Paris Club Germany has agreed to waive some fifty percent56
($ 2.4 billion) of debt owed it by Iraq in three stages through 2008. Total German
foreign aid and reconstruction funding worldwide for 2002 and 2003 was about $13.957
U.S.-German Bilateral Cooperation: Status,
Problems, and Prospects
Security cooperation between the United States and Germany, which had been
close even before 9/11, was greatly expanded after the attacks. The BKA now has
two permanent liaison officers at the German Embassy in Washington, DC and a
liaison officer from the office of the German Federal Prosecutor is working in the
U.S. Department of Justice. In Germany, up to 15 U.S. liaison officers are
participating in the investigations of the 9/11 terrorist cells that were based in
52 See Foreign Ministry website (in German)
[ h t t p : / / www.a u s w a e r t i g e s -a mt . d e / www/ d e / aussenpolitik/friedenspolitik/ziv_km/ aktionsp
53 Germany’s five leading Peace-Research-Institutes in their “2004 Peace Survey”
(Frankfurter Rundschau: “Das Faustrecht bringt keinen Frieden”) June 16, 2004.
54 See German Embassy website, Washington, D.C., Fact Sheet: Fight Against International
Terrorism - Prevention and Stability (in German)
[ h t t p : / / www.ge r many-i n f o.or g/ r e l a unch/ i n f o / a r c hi ve s/ backgr ound/ Af gh a n i s t a n _ f a c t s h e e t
55 Besides the provision of facilities and training supervisors, additional monetary
contributions, to date, amount to $112 million.
56 Sueddeutsche Zeitung, November22, 2004, p. 8.
57 According to Gabriele Ziller, Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development,
Several other measures have been taken. An agreement on bilateral cooperation
for the protection of computer systems and networks was reached in June 2003. This
effort is aimed at defending critical infrastructure such as power supplies, and
transportation and telecommunications grids in both the United States and Germany.
Steps are being taken to extend this cooperation to the protection of nuclear
facilities.58 Moreover, the United States and Germany reached an agreement on
increased legal cooperation in criminal matters in October 2003. Bilateral cabinet-
level meetings are frequent.
Germany plays an active role in the U.S. Container Security Initiative (CSI).
Officials in Washington, DC and Berlin signed an agreement to improve bilateral
cooperation on container security with the aim of stopping terrorists from smuggling
weapons of mass destruction in sea-cargo containers. U.S. Customs agents are
stationed in Germany to monitor suspicious containers before they leave German
harbors.59 Furthermore, Germany is an active member of the 14-country core group
of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). This initiative is aimed at preventing the
spread of materials that could be used to build weapons of mass destruction. U.S. and
German intelligence cooperation led to seizure of a ship bound for Libya in the
Mediterranean Sea in October 2003. Illicit nuclear material aboard was confiscated.60
Some believe that bilateral cooperation is weaker in the field of information
sharing for a variety of reasons. The United States has security concerns about
sharing sensitive information. German authorities in turn fear that the United States
will use sensitive shared information in ways that might conflict with Germany’s
practices with regard to data protection and civil liberties.61 Also, German critics
claim that the U.S. expectation of information sharing by others is not matched by
a U.S. willingness to share with them.
A recent example of the problems created by inadequate information sharing
concerned two trials of suspects in the 9/11 attacks. Mounir el Motassadeq and
Abdelghani Mzoudi were eventually acquitted by a German Federal Court with the
explanation that the United States had not made crucial evidence available.62 After
the Department of Justice forwarded the evidence requested by the German
government, the Motassadeq trial was reopened on August 10, 2004. What effect the
information might have on the outcome of the new trial is unclear.
58 See German Embassy website, Washington D.C., Fact Sheet: Fight Against International
Terrorism - Prevention and Stability (in German)
[ h t t p : / / www.ge r many-i n f o.or g/ r e l a unch / i n f o / a r c h i ve s / b a c kgr ound/anti_terror_factsheet.pdf].
59 Wolfgang Ischinger, German Ambassador to the United States in the Journal for
Homeland Security, “Fighting Terrorism -International Cooperation as a Strategy of
Prevention,” April 15, 2004.
61 In this context the U.S. “Total Awareness Program” is viewed as a major barrier to further
62 Neue Zuericher Zeitung, April 8, 2004.
U.S.-German cooperation in the area of information sharing mostly occurs on
a case-by-case basis and is not based on formal governmental agreements. Some
question whether this is adequate. Given the way that transnational terrorist networks
operate, some argue that it is necessary to target the entire terrorist infrastructure
(e.g., recruitment, fund raising, logistics, and training).63 A shared database
containing all available information regarding the most threatening persons might
allow both countries to better track terrorist suspects, to harmonize surveillance
activities, and to target travel by terrorists (as was recommended by the U.S. 9/11
Commission). Apparently the only databases of such dangerous persons accessible
to both governments are the lists of Islamic terrorist organizations and persons
maintained by the UN and the EU.64
Sharply different perspectives on the death penalty have also hampered bilateral
cooperation in some cases. Germany, like all EU member countries, has abolished
the death penalty. German law does not allow extradition of a person wanted by
another country if there is a possibility that the person might be executed if found
guilty. In previous cases, Germany extradited suspects only after it had received
assurances that the death penalty would not be imposed. In 1998, Germany arrested
and extradited a key suspect in the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Africa, after U.S.
prosecutors agreed to waive the death penalty. Germany has interpreted its laws to
forbid even provision of evidence relating to such a case, if that information might
lead to the imposition of a death sentence. This became an issue when the United
States sought to obtain documents from Germany related to the case of Zacarias
Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker. The information was eventually supplied
based on the understanding that the United States would agree not to seek the death
penalty solely based on the evidence gained from Germany.65 Still, the death penalty
issue remains a potential impediment to cooperation in specific cases.
Germany and the United States also differ on the question of the status of
prisoners, particularly the Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees in Guantánamo Bay.
Germany’s Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and other politicians have argued that
all detainees should be granted formal status as prisoners of war. Germans, like other
Europeans, have also criticized U.S. plans to use military tribunals to try at least
some of the terrorist suspects. Such tribunals are seen as unnecessary and
counterproductive by German officials. Some question has been raised whether
terrorist suspects would be extradited by Germany and other EU countries, if they
were likely to face a military tribunal.66
In the German view, conduct of the fight against global terrorism requires
multilateral cooperation, formally sanctioned by the relevant international
organizations. Germans argue that most unilateral measures are illegitimate and
ineffective. In this context, German officials are hoping that the second Bush
63 Sageman, Marc: Understanding Terror Networks, Philadelphia, 2004, p. 175 et seq.
64 Interview with Gerhard Schindler, Head of Counterterrorism Section within the Ministry
of the Interior, July 28, 2004.
65 Washington Post, June 11, 2002.
66 The Wall Street Journal, November 28,2001.
Administration will place greater emphasis on multilateralism to strengthen
international support for U.S. counterterrorism initiatives. From Germany’s
perspective, joint action on counterterrorism is also tied closely to joint decision
The U.S. Administration rejects any absolute commitment to multilateralism in
terms of waiting for UN approval for any military action. Such a policy would be
seen in the United States as a dangerous and unacceptable recipe for paralysis. Some
criticize the German approach as too wedded to process over results, especially when
dealing with “rogue” states and weapons of mass destruction. While Germany has
declared WMD non-proliferation a core element of its national security strategy, the
German approach has been criticized by some for relying almost exclusively on
positive engagement and avoiding conflict, an approach that might not be very
successful in influencing certain regimes or potential terrorists. Some observers
believe that the German stance reflects the reality that the country presently lacks the
military means or the political will to confront WMD states with anything other than
“soft power” instruments (such as diplomacy and economic levers).
Some see a complementarity in the differing U.S. and German approaches. The
U.S. has extensive military capabilities to deal with threats of terrorism, while
Germany views its strengths in conflict prevention and reconstruction. This could
mean, for instance, that Germany might be better positioned to take on a greater role
in long-term reconstruction efforts in countries like Afghanistan. Some argue that
with a better understanding of the potential complementary roles the two countries
can play based on the strengths and advantages of each, new opportunities for
enhanced cooperation in the global war on terrorism might be found. The final report
of the U.S. 9/11 Commission suggests that long-term success in the war against
terrorism demands the use of all elements of national power, including “soft power”
instruments such as diplomacy, intelligence, and foreign aid.
A key question is to what degree differences are likely to hamper U.S.-German
cooperation against terrorism. It could be argued that U.S. and German security in
the near and mid-term are likely to be affected far more by what Germany does to
cooperate with the United States in terms of domestic security and bilaterally than by
Germany’s stance on other international issues. Lapses in German domestic
surveillance or other shortcomings in German domestic policy could directly threaten
U.S. security. For example, according to statements from the BND, some dozen or
so Islamic militants capable of carrying out assaults may have left Germany for Iraq
not too long ago.68 Therefore, many question whether the United States and Germany
can afford the risk of allowing international policy differences to lead to declining
cooperation within the crucial arena of domestic security.
The United States and Germany may see security threats through different
lenses, and responses to those threats are shaped by different national interests,
67 Already stated on September 28, 2001, by Karsten D. Voigt (coordinator for U.S.-German
relations within the German Foreign Ministry), in German:
[ h t t p : / / www.auswaer t i ges-a mt .de/ www/ de/ a r c hi v_pr i n t ?ar chi v_i d=2127 ].
68 Die Zeit, November 27, 2003, (“Im Fadenkreuz der Terroristen”).
practices, and historical experiences.69 Ultimately, understanding and accepting these
differences (agreeing to disagree), in the minds of some observers, may be the best
approach to enhancing future U.S.-German cooperation in the global war on
terrorism. Close bilateral cooperation with the United States is important for
Germany’s own global interests. For the United States, as well, German cooperation
against terrorism is likely to remain significant in light of Germany’s importance as
a European and world actor, as a key hub for the transnational flow of persons and
goods especially to the United States, and as a country whose soil has been used by
terrorist to target the United States.
69 Katzstein, Peter J.: “Same War - Different Views: Germany, Japan, and
Counterterrorism,” International Organization, Vol. 57, No. 4, 2003, p. 731-760.
Appendix A (Organization Chart)70
Most Relevant Ministries, Intelligence,
and Security Authorities
FederalBND - Federal Intelligence ServiceBfV - Federal Bureau for the Protection of
Chancellerythe ConstitutionBKA - Federal Bureau for Criminal Investigation
BGS - Federal Border GuardMAD - Military Counterintelligence ServiceCoordinator for Intelligence
ForeignMi n is t ry Mi n is t ryBf V
of the Interior
Coordinator / Sectionfor Preventing andDivision forBKAFederal StateInformation
16 StateBureaus for
iki/CRS-RL32710Ministryof JusticeMinistryof DefenseCriminalCivilDefense
g/w In vest ig at io n
leak Bu nd es w eh r
16 StateAttorney General
://wikiBureaus forProtection ofChancellor
httpConstitutionHead of Federal Chancellery
Minister of DefenseMinister of Ecocomic Cooperation & Development
FederalSecurityMinister of the InteriorForeign Minister
Council16 State Polices Minster of JusticeMinister of Finance
Minister of Economy and Labour
nformation Board data is shared regarding Networks of Arab Mujaheden (“Jihadists”).
ederal Security Council is a committee of the Federal Cabinet. Its top-confidential sessions are convened and led by the Chancellor.
70 Compiled from official German government sources.
Appendix B (Germany’s Post-9/11 Reforms)71
Association/Organization Law. Before 9/11, religious associations were protected
from surveillance and investigation under German law. The anti-terror laws passed
in late 2001 have removed this legal protection, permitting state authorities to probe
and investigate groups with suspected terrorist ties. In the future, associations of
foreigners that promote violent or terrorist activities will be prohibited.
Penal Code Changes. In the future terrorist activities are subject to prosecution of
German authorities even if they occur outside Germany’s borders and without direct
involvement of German citizens or organizations.
Alien Act. People who present a danger to the democratic order in Germany, and
who are engaged or encourage others to engage in terrorist organizations will be
denied entry or residence permits in Germany regardless of whether the individuals
are tourists, immigrants, or asylum seekers.
Asylum Procedure Law. All asylum applications will be required to include a voice
recording stating the exact country of origin of applicants. Fingerprints will also be
collected with applications. All records will be on file with the security authorities
for 10 years.
Law on Central Foreigner Registry. Information filed in the Central Alien
Register (for instance) is now automated and more accessible for security authorities.
Moreover the collected data includes information about visa applications and
decisions and about people already living in Germany.
Security Oversight Law. Personnel working in areas of counterterrorism and other
sensitive defense occupations will receive security screening.
Air Traffic Law. Clarification of this law restricts the carrying and use of firearms
to air marshals. Additionally, security clearances are required for all airport and flight
personnel, as well as others working in activities connected to airports or air traffic.
Passport and Personal I.D. Law. Changes in this law will provide for an improved
computer-supported identification system. This will help prevent the use of bogus
identification documents. Encrypted biometric identification codes will be added to
photographs and signatures.
Act on the Protection of the Constitution. The Federal Bureau for the Protection
of the Constitution (BfV) is given authority to track any activities of extremist groups
that seek to intensify ideological or religious differences. The law calls for combining
71 All information from the website of the Ministry of the Interior, (in German)
[http://www.bmi .bund.de/ t op/ s ons t i ge/ Schwer punkt e /Innere_Sicherheit/Terrorismus/ix9
[http://www.bundes r e gi e r u n g. d e / a r t i ke l -,413.65820/Zweites-Anti-T error-Paket-in-K.htm].
several databases with civil information to make computerized searches more
Federal Bureau for Criminal Investigation. The BKA now has the right to lead its
own investigations, replacing the former system which required formal requests by
Federal Border Guard Act. Armed officers of the Federal Border Guard (BGS) are
now deployed aboard German airplanes. Moreover, the BGS has been tasked to
conduct in-depth screening of border traffic.