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Terrorism prosecutions soar in Germany

October 22, 2017

A nearly four-fold increase in terrorism-related cases is stretching the manpower of federal prosecutors. So far this year nearly 900 terrorism cases have been opened.

Islamic State flag and weapon sitting on evidence table at trial in Göttingen
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Pförtner

German federal prosecutors have opened up more than 900 terrorism-related cases so far this year, including 800 related to radical Islamists, according to a report published in the German language nespaper Welt am Sonntag on Sunday.

The number of terrorism cases has jumped nearly four-fold compared to last year, when federal prosecutors opened about 250 proceedings. In 2013, there were about 80 terrorism cases in the courts.

The sharp rise has stretched manpower at the Karlsruhe-based federal prosecutors office, the newspaper reported. Nearly 300 terrorism cases have been transferred from federal authorities to state prosecutors. 

Read more: Germany's domestic intelligence agency warns of 'Islamic State' sympathizers

According to a Der Spiegel German newspaper report from earlier this year, Federal Attorney General Peter Frank requested state justice ministers send prosecutors and judges to help overburdened federal courts.

Cases do not necessarily relate to German attack plans

Not all of the current terrorism cases in the system deal with actual plans to carry out attacks in Germany.

Refugees from Syria, Afghanistan or Iraq who fought for the "Islamic State" (IS) or other radical groups may also be tried for membership in an international terrorist group without planning attacks in Germany.

Germany in the Crosshairs of Terrorism

Read more: Prevening terrorism: What powers do German security forces have? 

In addition, the Federal Criminal Police Office estimates nearly 700 people in Germany are Gefährder (loosely translated as dangerous,) or radical Islamists who represent a security risk and are capable of carrying out violent attacks.

There is also concern in security circles that German nationals who went to fight in Syria or Iraq may return home and present a threat to security. 

cw/aw (dpa, AFP)