Berlin to fit suspected jihadists with ankle bracelets

Germany's government on Wednesday approved the use of ankle bracelets to monitor extremists considered potentially dangerous as it moves to get tough on suspected jihadists after the Berlin truck attack.

Berlin to fit suspected jihadists with ankle bracelets
Photo: DPA

The proposed measure would allow the federal criminal police to electronically track the movements of a person deemed a security threat, even before they have been convicted of a crime.

“Ankle bracelets are not a panacea but they are an important instrument to facilitate the surveillance of dangerous people,” Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said after the cabinet agreed to a change in the law to allow the measure.

The proposal still has to be approved by parliament.

It comes as part of a series of security reforms announced in response to the December 19th attack in which Tunisian national Anis Amri ploughed a truck into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people.

The attack was claimed by the extremist Isis terror group, with Amri shot dead by Italian police in Milan several days later.

Public anger quickly erupted after it emerged that Amri was already on the radar of intelligence services and was known to have links to Islamist radicals.

As a failed asylum seeker, he should have been deported months before the attack but Tunisia failed to send the necessary paperwork in time.

The German government has since vowed to speed up deportations and mooted plans to place rejected asylum seekers who are considered a threat in detention ahead of their expulsion.

German security services have a list of more than 550 Islamists considered “threats to public security” who have lived or currently reside in Germany.

Interior ministry spokesman Johannes Dimroth declined to speculate how many suspects might now face electronic monitoring.

“How many of them could in the future be affected by such a measure is a purely hypothetical question,” he told reporters in Berlin.


Anti-Semitism ‘massive problem’ in Germany, says Jewish leader on terror attack anniversary

On the second anniversary of a far-right terror attack at a German synagogue, the German Jewish Council has warned that the government needs to make more efforts to stop the spread of anti-Semitism online.

Anti-Semitism 'massive problem' in Germany, says Jewish leader on terror attack anniversary
A star of David on the roof of the Halle synagogue. Photo: dpa-Zentralbild | Hendrik Schmidt

Two years after a terrorist attack in the east German town of Halle that left two people dead, Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews, said that more needed to be done in the fight against anti-Semitism and right-wing extremism.

“The spread and incitement of hate, for example in the form of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories via social media, is a massive problem,” Schuster told DPA.

On October 9th 2019, a heavily armed right-wing extremist called Stephan Balliet tried to enter the Halle city synagogue on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.

When he failed to do so, he shot a 40-year-old passerby. He later killed a 20-year-old man at a kebab shop. While trying to escape, the 28-year-old injured several people before he was caught by the police.

The city of Halle is commemorating the event on Saturday, with wreaths to be laid at the scene of the crime. Reiner Haseloff, state leader of Saxony-Anhalt, is expected to attend.

Balliet was sentenced to life in prison in 2020 by the Naumburg Higher Regional Court. His sentence will be followed by preventive detention.

Funs for synagogue security

While praising the German government for introducing a law that makes social media companies responsible for hateful content posted on their sites, Schuster said that the legislation needed to be extended to messenger services such as Telegram.

“We must do everything we can to ensure that the internet is not a lawless space,” he said.

According to Schuster, the German government reacted quickly after the Halle attack by providing money to improve security at Jewish institutions.

This was an important step, he said. “However, there is still much to be done at the political and social level to combat growing anti-Semitism.”

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