Schily Wants More Police Capabilities | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 25.07.2005
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Schily Wants More Police Capabilities

The London attacks have sparked disagreement between state governors and Interior Minister Schily on expanding police capabilities. Governors are against creating a "German FBI."


Schily wants federal investigators to act preventatively

"It's urgent that the Federal Criminal Office can also act preventatively against terorristic threats," Schily told the German mass daily Bild.

Until now, the BKA, responsible for investigating threats to Germany -- locally or abroad -- passed on tips it had gathered on possible threats and suspects to the state investigative agencies. The agencies would then act on them and took any sort of preventative measures -- like surveillance or arrests -- needed.

Critics, like Schily, say the extra step puts up an unnecessary obstacle that could delay quick action on a terror threat.

No need for "German FBI"

Günther Beckstein, the conservative interior minister of Bavaria and normally a Schily ally, disagreed.

"The demand for a German FBI is not one of ours," Beckstein said following the attacks. Security work must happen locally, and "can't be organized centrally from Berlin."

There are an estimated 300 Islamic fundamentalists currently under observation by Germany's Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, said Schily. Major trials involving planned terrorist attacks or activities are taking place in Munich, Hamburg and Düsseldorf, where members of alleged al Qaeda splinter group Al-Tawhid are on trial for planning attacks on US and Israeli targets in Germany.

Though Schily was careful to point out that the vast majority of the country's more than three million Muslims was peaceful, fundamentalists continue to pose a major threat to the country. Still, he said he didn't "think much of fatalistic predictions that it was only a matter of time before something like what happened in London or Madrid happened in Germany."

Muslim community needs to cooperate

He urged the Muslim community to be more active in combating fundamental tendencies among its youth.

"It's imperative that the Muslim community works together with the security services to fight fundamentalism and terrorism," said Schily.

Though the interior minister continues to push for more competencies, the chances he will get his way are limited by the German constitution, which clearly divides up responsibilities between the federal government and Germany's 16 states. A reform of Germany's federal structure, pushed by his Social Democratic party is currently on ice because of new elections. The same fate will meet his push for more competency for federal investigators.

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