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Germany: 7 attacks stopped since Christmas market atrocity

October 23, 2019

An attack like the one that left 12 dead in 2016 would not be possible today, says the head of the Federal Criminal Police Office. But the effects of online hate speech have officials worried for democracy in Germany.

Memorial at the Berlin Christmas Market on Breitscheidplatz
Image: DW/S. Abdelrahman

Security authorities have prevented seven terrorist attacks in Germany since the 2016 Christmas market terror attack that killed 12, says Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office. 

In an interview with German daily Rheinische Post published Wednesday, the organization's President Holger Münch said that the deficiencies in immigration law, surveillance, and criminal prosecution that allowed the 2016 attack to happen would no longer be possible today.

Read more: Are deportations from Germany on the rise?

On December 19, 2016, Anis Amri, a rejected asylum-seeker from Tunisia, stole a semi truck, killed the driver and drove the vehicle into an unprotected Christmas market at Berlin's Breitscheidplatz. More than 60 people were wounded and 12 died. Amri was later shot dead by authorities in Italy while on the run.

Germany: An attack on freedom

'Danger to democracy'

An investigation of the incident revealed that Amri was a convicted drug dealer known to police. Criminal proceedings against Amri in the several German states had not been combined and he was able to move freely. 

Read more: Berlin Christmas market attack: 'We weren't prepared'

Münch cautioned that, despite the advancements since 2016, concerns remain. He named Islamist and right-wing extremism as growing threats, and called for a greater fight against online hate speech.

"Sometimes the Internet seems like the last bastion of the Wild West," said Münch. "When threats from right-wing groups mean that local politicians no longer run for office and that volunteers give up their work, then that's a danger to our democracy." 

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Kristie Pladson
Kristie Pladson Business reporter, editor and moderator with a focus on technology and German economy.@bizzyjourno