The rise of anti-Western feelings in Muslim countries poses a serious threat, the director of Germany's foreign intelligence agency said on Thursday. He called for a renewed effort to capture "hearts and minds."
Intelligence boss: Terrorists and organized crime cooperate
August Hanning, director of Germany's foreign intelligence agency, told a crowd of 400 policy makers, security experts, and social scientists gathered for a security symposium in Berlin on Thursday that increasing anti-Western feelings in Muslim countries poses a serious threat -- one that could not be dealt with by security measures alone
"I continue to see the rise of anti-Western feelings in Muslim countries," said Bundesnachrichtendienst boss Hanning (photo, below). Even more alarming, he noted, was the fact that the resulting terror cells were forging new links to transnational criminal groups, making the fight against terror all the more challenging.
August Hanning, director of the Bundesnachrichtendienst, Germany's foreign intelligence agency
To win the war on terror, Hanning urged the audience to look beyond the implementation of additional security measures and make a new effort to gain the sympathy of the Muslim world. “Have we really made any progress in recent years to win the hearts and minds of the world's predominantly young Muslims?" asked Hanning. "I’m afraid the answer is 'no,' as we haven’t really tried hard enough."
Alliance formed with the underworld
Western intelligence agencies are becoming increasingly worried about the systematic strengthening of ties between terrorists and organized crime. Stefan Maier from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs confirmed that cooperation between the two camps was on the rise, despite their different political and economic motives.
“Common ground between terrorists and organized criminal groups can be found primarily in two areas," he told DW-WORLD. "First, the two come together in money-laundering activities: Terrorists often need to park their money temporarily with somebody else to cover up their tracks. Secondly, they need weapons, and they usually get them straight from organized crime.”
Hanning pointed out that terrorists and organized crime have also begun forming teams to carry out kidnappings in Iraq. He maintained that 65 percent of kidnappings there were organized simply to raise funds, but added that, in the process, victims were very often traded to terrorists who pursued political objectives.
Taking the fight to the global stage
German Interior Minister Otto Schily
German Interior Minister Otto Schily, the author of two anti-terror law packages since the Sept. 11, 2002 attacks on Washington and New York, said that if terrorism was becoming more and more transnational, the fight against it had to become more international too.
“Police and intelligence units have to work hand in hand in the fight against terrorism," he said. "And we certainly need to harmonize our policies at a European level and beyond.”
Speakers at the conference agreed that while military options would continue to be considered as methods of cracking down on international terrorism, other, longer-term concepts had to be devised to fight the root causes of terrorism, such as rethinking development policy in the world’s poorest regions.