The elite German anti-terror unit GSG 9 will be training a large number of new recruits and setting up a permanent base in the German capital Berlin, the unit’s commander told German media on Monday. The move has been attributed to the “ongoing terrorist threats in the capital,” a German news outlet reported.
The unit, initiated in 1973, gained international recognition in 1977 for operation Feuerzauber, in which a team of GSG 9 commandos stormed a hijacked Lufthansa plane in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, killing four Palestinian terrorists and rescuing 86 hostages. With Islamist recruitment in Germany hitting a record high, elite units like GSG 9 will be forced to stretch their resources to meet the rising threat.
Since Germany opened its borders to migrants following Chancellor Merkel’s decision to suspend the existing European border controls, or the Dublin II agreement, regulating asylum seekers entering Europe, the country has been hit by a wave of jihadi terrorism and violent crimes. Last year, a Tunisian asylum-seeker drove a truck loaded with 20 tonnes of steel beams into a Berlin Christmas market, murdering 12 people and injuring 49 others. France, Britain and Belgium have experienced similar Islamist terror attacks in their capitals and major cities.
German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported:
Germany's elite police squad GSG 9, which deals with terrorist attacks, is to become significantly larger and will set up a second base in Berlin.
"We're talking about around a third of the current strength of the unit," GSG 9 commander Jérome Fuchs told Berlin public broadcaster RBB on Monday, before adding that finding the right personnel would be a "big challenge," and that "fitness, strength of character, and team work" were the particular assets he prized most.
Fuchs added that the decision had been made because of an ongoing terrorist threat in Germany - and especially Berlin, which saw its first major attack in December 2016, when Tunisian national Anis Amri drove a truck into a crowded Christmas market, killing 12 people.
"If you look at comparable terrorist situations across Europe, then it was often capital cities that were affected," Fuchs told the station. "It is essential that we are better prepared in the capital. Our aim is clear: GSG 9 needs to be capable of quicker reactions in the capital."
The number of Islamists in Germany reached 10,800 in 2017 compared with 9,700 in the previous year, according to the German domestic intelligence agency BfV. The number of Islamic radicals, classified by the German authorities as Salafists, has “risen to an all-time high,” BfV chief Hans-Georg Maassen revealed last month. Uncontrolled mass migration and growing Muslim demography are behind this sustained surge.
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Merkel is working to cut a deal with the left-wing Social Democratic Party (SPD) to secure her fourth term in office. If she manages to form a coalition with the SPD, Germany will shift even further to the left on the question of open borders and combatting the threat of jihadi terrorism. Deploying elite units will do little to ensure the safety of its citizens, if Germany’s political class fails to secure the borders and crack down on the country’s growing Islamist network.