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GSG 9 - Germany’s counterterrorism unit

June 11, 2020

The GSG 9 is the German police’s elite tactical unit. It’s their job to take on dangerous terrorists and criminal mafias in the country. But who are the officers who make up the force? An exclusive look behind the scenes of Germany’s top police squad.


Perhaps the most famous operation carried out by the GSG 9 was the 1977 liberation of more than 80 hostages from a Lufthansa passenger jet in Mogadishu.

But this documentary focuses not on the past but the present. Who are the members of the elite GSG 9 and what is like to work for Germany’s top tactical unit? The GSG 9 carries out 30 to 50 missions a year. Most of them never make it into public view. It’s a life-and-death job that requires constant, rigorous training.

The officers’ identities are classified as top secret. And they’re the only German police unit permitted to operate outside the country. In recent years, the security situation in Germany has grown increasingly complex. The threat of terrorism and the danger of violent far-right extremists pose a challenge to Germany’s open society.

The possibility of Islamist attacks has been at the forefront of concerns. The assassination of regional politician Walter Lübcke in 2019, however, has now raised awareness of the rise of far-right terrorism in the country. At the same time, the infiltration of Germany’s military and police forces by right-wing extremists has also come to light. This report takes a deep dive into the normally closed world of Germany’s GSG 9 tactical unit.

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