Head of the Interior Ministry's anti-terrorism unit Hans-Georg Maaßen told the paper on Wednesday that those 60, who include German citizens as well as immigrants with residency permits, are currently living in the country.
Maaßen argued their return was a good reason for the German upper house of parliament to pass a controversial new anti-terrorism law in the coming weeks. The law would give officials more authority to prosecute crimes that endanger the state, such as attending terrorist training camps in Afghanistan or Pakistan. After months of arguing, the grand coalition government managed to agree on a bill, and the Bundesrat will vote on it March 6.
Should it be passed by parliament as expected, any involvement with suspected terrorist groups, including contacting them, preparing for a terror attack by collecting money, financing terrorist activities, gathering bomb materials, spending time in a terrorist training camp or publishing bomb-building instructions will be punishable by up to 10 years under the new legislation. Building a bomb, even if someone does not detonate it, could mean up to three years in jail, for instance.
The new law comes out of analysis of investigations against terror suspects in the last several years. Since 2000, at least 7 terrorist attacks have been stopped or failed, Maaßen told the paper, adding that the new law was just a “re-adjustment of small details in criminal law.”
But critics of the bill say it's unconstitutional. Even German Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries has said that the legislation enters a “new legal territory.”
But according to Maaßen, "There are these exceptions against whom we have to take precautions."