‘Beef up anti-ter­ror se­cu­rity’

Ger­man min­is­ter: unify po­lice pow­ers

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD - REUTERS

GER­MANY must grant fed­eral po­lice more pow­ers to counter threats like ter­ror­ism and cy­ber at­tacks, In­te­rior Min­is­ter Thomas de Maiziere has said, af­ter a failed asy­lum seeker rammed a truck into a Christ­mas mar­ket and killed 12 peo­ple.

Re­fer­ring to the De­cem­ber 19 at­tack, De Maiziere said Ger­many lacks laws that other coun­tries have, and po­lice and in­tel­li­gence bod­ies are too frag­mented. “Our state must be bet­ter pre­pared than it has been,” he said at the start of an elec­tion year in which im­mi­gra­tion and se­cu­rity will top the po­lit­i­cal agenda.

“Cen­tral gov­ern­ment and the states must work to­gether on na­tional se­cu­rity,” he wrote in a full-page ar­ti­cle in the Frank­furter All­ge­meine Zeitung news­pa­per.

Each of the 16 fed­eral states has its own po­lice force and in­tel­li­gence agency. Now, the coun­try’s worst at­tack in more than 35 years has reignited de­bate about how best to pre­vent in­for­ma­tion from fall­ing be­tween the cracks.

Af­ter the Christ­mas mar­ket at­tack, it emerged that Tu­nisian sus­pect Anis Amri had spent nearly a year and a half in Ger­many, us­ing var­i­ous names and mov­ing be­tween dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try de­spite be­ing iden­ti­fied as a se­cu­rity threat. For sev­eral days he evaded an in­ten­sive search, cross­ing three in­ter­na­tional borders be­fore be­ing shot dead in Italy.

De Maiziere said the fed­eral po­lice agency should lead na­tional man­hunts, and a dis­cus­sion about cen­tral­is­ing in­tel­li­gence agen­cies was needed.

Bet­ter co-or­di­na­tion was also re­quired to mon­i­tor sev­eral hun­dred in­di­vid­u­als be­lieved to pose a threat, in­clud­ing many who have re­turned from Syria and Iraq.

Ger­mans should not fear in­stalling more video cam­eras in pub­lic places to help pre­vent and solve crime, he said. Ger­mans have an aver­sion to such mea­sures af­ter mass snoop­ing un­der the com­mu­nist East Ger­man Stasi and the Nazis.

He also said failed asy­lum seek­ers, viewed as a dan­ger, should be held un­til they can be de­ported.

Amri, whose at­tack was claimed by Is­lamic State, was due to be sent home af­ter his asy­lum ap­pli­ca­tion was re­jected but Tu­nisia re­fused to take him be­cause of miss­ing pa­pers.

Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel, who is seek­ing a fourth term this year, is un­der grow­ing pres­sure for al­low­ing more than 1mil­lion mi­grants into Ger­many over the past two years, which crit­ics say has made the coun­try more vul­ner­a­ble to an at­tack.

In the lat­est twist in a sen­si­tive na­tional de­bate, po­lice in Cologne are com­ing un­der fire for al­leged racial pro­fil­ing and the coin­ing of a new acro­nym, Nafri, mean­ing North African Re­peat Of­fend­ers.

Ger­many is also con­cerned that it could be open to a cy­ber at­tack in the months lead­ing to the elec­tion. The web­site of the fed­eral po­lice was hacked one day af­ter the Christ­mas mar­ket at­tack.

In this photo re­leased by the Span­ish Guardia Civil on Tues­day, a 19-year-old mi­grant from Gabon is pic­tured in a suit­case in Ceuta, Spain. Border guards re­cently de­tained two Moroc­cans for at­tempt­ing to smug­gle mi­grants con­cealed in a suit­case and in a car as they crossed the border into Ceuta, Spain’s en­clave in North Africa. Cus­toms of­fi­cials found the 19-year-old mi­grant from Gabon hid­den in a suit­case pushed on a trol­ley by a wo­man who tried to cross the land border from Morocco on De­cem­ber 30. PIC­TURE: AP

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