1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Immigration and Terrorism

DW staff (kjb)November 16, 2006

German security officials agree that Germany is still a potential target of terrorist attacks and that something should be done about illegal immigration.

A stack of various passports
Study: only six percent of alleged terrorists immigrated illegally to the target countryImage: AP

"Due to its prominent profile in foreign and security policy, Germany is becoming more and more a target of terrorist attacks," said Ernst Uhrlau, president of the German Intelligence Service (BND) on Thursday in Wiesbaden.

Speaking at the closing of a three-day conference hosted by the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), Uhrlau said that legal immigration represents a large problem in preventing terrorist attacks. He referred to a study indicating that only 6 percent of the alleged terrorists currently under investigation had immigrated illegally to the target country.

Second and third generation immigrants are often interesting to terrorist groups because they are less conspicuous and speak the language of the target country.

"It will be essential to win the minds and hearts of the Muslims to prevent them from becoming vulnerable to an intolerant, extremist and hate-filled world view," Uhrlau said.

Integration as crime prevention

BND president Ernst Uhrlau
Secret service president Uhrlau said Germany's still in the terrorists radarImage: picture-alliance / dpa

In his closing speech at the conference, BKA president Jörg Ziercke agreed that non-integrated immigrants are more susceptible to the appeals of religiously motivated terrorists.

"Successful integration is the best crime prevention method," said Ziercke, adding the police must increase their intercultural competency to better function in a diverse society.

At the same time, he warned that immigration should not be equated with criminality.

European Commissioner for Security and Justice Franco Frattini, who also spoke at the conference, said that Europe needed immigrants -- both well-qualified specialists and seasonal laborers -- but added that fighting illegal immigration is a high priority for the EU.

"We need a unified European immigration policy" that takes into account the immigrants already living in Europe, said the commissioner.