Germany to overhaul security after Christmas attack

January 3, 2017 8:00 pm

This file photo taken on December 19, 2016 shows German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere during a press conference on December 19, 2016 in Berlin. (Photo by AFP)

’s interior minister has outlined plans for reforms in the country’s security apparatus following Christmas market attack.
Thomas de Maiziere on Tuesday urged wider federal powers for domestic intelligence and the enforcement of refugee expulsions.
“We don’t have federal jurisdiction to deal with national catastrophes. The jurisdiction for the fight against international terrorism is fragmented,” he wrote in a guest column for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper.
He also urged wider oversight for federal police as well as for the formation of a crisis management center.
“The federal police’s scope of action is restricted to railway stations, airports and border controls,” he said, adding it was time to re-examine Germany’s security set-up.
Twelve people were killed and 48 others wounded in a terror attack at a Christmas market in Berlin on December 19, which saw a 40-ton truck running into a crowd. The Takfiri Daesh terrorist group, which is mainly active in militancy in Iraq and Syria, claimed responsibility for the attack.
Reports that Tunisian suspect Anis Amri in the deadly attack was an asylum seeker who had slipped through the net of security services has laid the blame for the attack at the door of Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Amri had been under surveillance by German authorities since March, but German police stopped watching him in September, thinking that he was a small-time drug dealer.
De Maiziere called for the establishment of federal departure centers to hold asylum seekers in the weeks or days leading up to their deportation. He also urged wider powers to be given to federal police in order to boost security.
“The current remit of the federal police is too limited,” De Maiziere said. “We need a set of common rules and better coordination, for instance in checking dangerous individuals,” he added.
The minister also stressed that the federal government should take charge of domestic intelligence services.
De Maiziere is a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is running for a fourth term in a crucial national election in September.
Last month, Merkel declared plans to hasten the expulsion of rejected asylum seekers as her government came under fire in the wake of the truck attack.
Germany and other Western countries are blamed for supporting militants in the Middle East when their political agendas were served by such campaigns.
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