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Germany

Suspected terrorists in Germany to be denied 'real' ID cards

In a bid to clamp down on Islamists leaving and re-entering the country, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere has suggested a "replacement" ID card. Some 450 extremists are already thought to have left Germany.

Under new plans to issue suspected terrorists in Germany with "replacement" identification cards, Islamists could be prevented from traveling to join jihadists in Syria or Iraq, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said during a special meeting with federal and state authorities in Berlin on Friday.

De Maiziere said the replacement for the identification card could be the same document that Germans receive if they, for example, lose theirs abroad.

"Potential Islamist extremists could thereby be denied an identification card," de Maiziere explained.

He hopes that by providing suspected terrorists with the "replacement" document, it will prevent them from leaving and re-entering Germany unnoticed.

Fear of returning extremists

During the meeting it was also agreed that the exchange of information between authorities would be heightened, in a bid to detect the plans of radical Islamists.

According to German authorities, at least 450 people have already left Germany to join extremist organizations such as "Islamic State" (IS), of which 150 are believed to have returned.

The main fear is that those returning to Germany will be radicalized, with the intention of carrying out attacks.

In a press conference following Friday's meeting, de Maiziere said, "We don't want terrorism to be exported. We don't want men and women to be radicalized here and to travel to Syria and Iraq to come back here ready to fight and to plan attacks."

'Difficult to implement'

Up until now, only the denial of a passport has been possible. Usually, however, an identification card is sufficient to travel to Syria via Turkey.

"The original idea to mark an identification card to prevent someone leaving seems off the cards. It's difficult to implement this with plastic cards and probably wouldn't be understood at other borders," de Maiziere explained.

The ministers also agreed upon further developing the Schengener Information System, whereby invalid documents or relevant people can be registered.

Extremist flees

German authorities confirmed media reports on Tuesday that an Islamic extremist disappeared from Hesse state on May 1, after removing an ankle tag meant to track his movements.

The whereabouts of the 24-year-old, known as Hassan M., remain unknown. Hesse Interior Minister Peter Beuth said it was likely the young man had left Germany.

ksb/slk (epd/dpa)

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