“The Problem of Islamist Terrorism in Germany Wouldn’t Exist Without Immigration”

Hans-Georg Maaßen is the former President of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution in Germany. Mr. Maaßen caused a controversy after the Chemnitz protests in 2018, in which it was said that an angry mob had “hunted” foreign-looking people. In an interview with Bild, Mr. Maaßen questioned the existence of any evidence for such “hunts”, and stated that his security agency had not in fact seen any such evidence. He was eased out of his position as a result of his deviation from the official narrative.

The video below is a recent interview with Hans-Georg Maaßen from Hungarian TV. Many thanks to MissPiggy for the translation, and to Vlad Tepes for the subtitling:

Video transcript:

00:00   Mr. Maaßen, when the borders were opened for
00:04   hundreds of thousands of people in early September 2015,
00:08   you had chills, as you described in an interview. What did you think back then?
00:13   I thought I was responsible in the country for countering terrorism, extremism and I saw
00:20   that we had already had so much trouble fending off Islamist terrorism.
00:25   I imagined it would be even harder.
00:29   I also thought about the integration problems.
00:33   For many years I was responsible for immigration policy
00:37   and national foreigner law in the Federal Ministry of the Interior.
00:41   At the time, I invented the rules for integration myself.
00:44   I had already realized that such a large number of people can not be easily integrated in Germany.
00:51   You say it is not a problem from 2015. The same mistakes made
00:56   in 2015 continue to be made. What do you mean?
01:01   In 2015, more than 10,000 people a day were entering Germany. That’s not the case at the moment.
01:11   The number of asylum seekers or persons entering Germany illegally
01:16   is now much smaller. It is about 700-900 people,
01:21   but the sluice is still open even if fewer are coming.
01:25   Concerning immigration, I see pressure building on other continents.
01:30   From the Middle East, from Africa to Europe, to Germany,
01:34   and from my point of view, the necessary steps have not
01:38   been taken to minimise this immigration pressure;
01:41   to prevent these people coming to us. I also foresee, with great concern,
01:45   that perhaps this summer or in the fall or even next year, this immense
01:49   immigration pressure building up, resulting in
01:52   significantly more people coming to Europe; to Germany. I just don’t see precautions being taken.
02:00   I didn’t see any precautions taken in 2015. Despite deals
02:06   being made with Turkey, and other agreements being negotiated,
02:11   I still don’t see any of the necessary arrangements needed to protect Europe
02:15   or Germany from so many people coming to us.
02:20   What will be the necessary measures?
02:24   It has to be said quite categorically that the border protection measures
02:28   on the external borders of Europe need to function properly.
02:33   This means that only those people can come to Germany, to Europe,
02:38   who have a right to asylum and who are eligible for residency.
02:44   Not economic refugees; the use of the term is not in a derogatory manner,
02:48   but it is just not possible for us to take in
02:52   all the people in the world. And that’s where external borders have to work.
02:55   I don’t see the external borders functioning.
02:58   Until now I haven’t seen that the EU, Frontex or even national border authorities
03:03   are taking the necessary measures to protect Europe,
03:08   or the Italian and Greek islands and thus indirectly protecting Germany.
03:13   At the time in 2015, you were already pointing out that
03:17   terrorists could come to Germany with the refugees.
03:20   However, the official narrative was that there was no connection between migration and terrorism.
03:28   What was your initial assessment based on?
03:33   Well, at that time, I assumed that among those many, many thousands
03:37   of young people, predominately young men,
03:41   coming to us from the Arab states, from Syria, from Iraq
03:45   or even from Afghanistan, of course, there would be people
03:49   among them who fought for ISIS or for other jihadist terrorist groups.
03:53   During that time, I didn’t say that I was certain
03:58   that these people had orders to come and commit terror. Meanwhile,
04:02   we know some had, but it is certainly a huge concern
04:07   for us when so many thousands of people arrive including many
04:12   who have experience in killing, experience in terror, and
04:17   a jihadist ideology in their hearts. That was the major concern
04:20   I had at that time and with these considerations,
04:23   I also took every opportunity to express that.
04:27   Could Islamist attacks have been prevented if the government had taken the warnings seriously?
04:34   I don’t want to speculate. The situation took the course it took,
04:38   and I don’t know if it could have been different.
04:43   At any rate, we prevented a whole series of terrorist attacks in Germany.
04:47   I believe the ministry that I directed at that time,
04:51   the Federal Constitutional Protection Agency, and the police
04:55   have done a very good job. Things could have been very different.
04:59   Unfortunately, not much thought is given to that, because
05:03   everyone is glad that there weren’t dozens or hundreds of terror victims.
05:08   I’m glad that at least during my time when I headed the ministry, with the exception
05:12   of the attack on the Breitscheidplatz in Berlin,
05:15   there were no major terrorist attacks.
05:19   How many threats were there, or were there any threats at all?
05:26   There were very many threats. We had at times two to three messages per day
05:31   about possible terrorist attacks or well-founded suspicions that had to be processed.
05:36   The burden of responsibility for my staff was immense
05:41   when trying to determine the validity of the leads. For instance,
05:46   to determine whether ISIS created a hoax in order to mislead us,
05:51   or whether there was a real threat with real leads which needed to be investigated.
05:57   It was a very large responsibility that my staff were carrying.
06:03   Why wasn’t the information provided by the national security services taken seriously
06:07   in the political sphere? —That’s a question
06:10   you really should address to the politicians, but I can give you my perspective on that.
06:15   Naturally politicians don’t see everything through the same lens as the national security head.
06:21   They have different perspectives to consider. They have economic issues to consider.
06:27   They also consider foreign policy issues, and then have to
06:31   decide for themselves which aspects are more important
06:34   to them. Internal security, foreign policy and maybe party politics —
06:38   you name it. The political sphere in Germany decided
06:42   the way they decided. As the national security head, of course,
06:46   I would have wished for a different decision from my perspective.
06:49   Thomas de Maizière writes in his new book that refusing entry to the refugees
06:54   in 2015 would have been possible, but that would have
07:00   created ugly images. Better to risk security than risk
07:04   creating ugly pictures. Is that how it should be understood?
07:07   The wording of that statement disappointed me when I read his book.
07:12   I have a really good relationship with Minister de Maizière. I appreciate
07:16   his personal qualities as well as his professional qualities.
07:19   I believe there is hardly any person who has left as many footprints
07:24   in German domestic politics as Mr. de Maizière has.
07:30   On the other hand, this statement was a disappointment
07:36   because of my long-time experience as security director and as lawyer.
07:41   I consider maintaining, enforcing law and order to be first and foremost,
07:45   as well as being in the interest and for the good of the people.
07:49   Even though the images are ugly, and perhaps especially in the situation
07:53   that produces ugly images, because the rule of law
07:56   is exemplified when — especially when — it is enforced by politicians
08:00   in situations that produce ugly images.
08:04   In 2012 there were 3,800 Salafists in Germany. Today there are 11,500.
08:09   How many of them are capable of attacks?
08:15   Amongst these 11,500 Salafists, there are many people who count
08:20   as having an Islamic terrorist potential; people believed capable
08:25   of committing terrorist attacks. That’s currently estimated
08:29   to be over 2,000 people. And of these around 700 people
08:33   are terrorist perpetrators. Islamist terrorist threats. These persons are watched, monitored,
08:38   and are under surveillance using different methods.
08:43   With this very large number of 2,000 potential Islamist terrorists, it is easy to imagine
08:50   that even a good national security service and well-equipped
08:57   police force can’t keep an eye on every person in sight.
09:01   Let alone be able to understand how these people tick,
09:04   what is going on in their heads or what they are planning.
09:08   How many of them came to Germany via the asylum route?
09:12   Perhaps without papers or with fictitious names?
09:15   Well, I can’t tell you how many of these 11,500 people came to us
09:19   as asylum seekers in recent years. However, it is important to understand
09:24   that the problem of Islamist terrorism in Germany wouldn’t exist without immigration.
09:31   The vast majority of people considered to be potential terrorists
09:35   are people with a migration background.
09:39   We speak in German of the four Ms, which are basically the factors that
09:43   result in a person’s becoming a member of this category.
09:48   These are young Men with a Migration background, Muslims,
09:52   and Mishaps in school, work or private life.
09:56   So that means migration and Islamist terrorism are connected. This needs to be discussed
10:02   and recognized as a problem in order to solve it.
10:09   The police, as you have mentioned, have already
10:13   foiled several terrorist attacks this past year.
10:17   Precisely six in the last two years, as I have read. Have the police become more alert?
10:23   Actually, I think we prevented even more terrorist attacks.
10:27   To be precise, prevented terror planning by countering preemptively.
10:30   I view as one of the greater successes we had last year, in June, the prevention
10:35   of the planning of bio-warfare using a natural poison in Cologne.
10:41   An individual was planning to detonate a Ricin bomb.
10:46   The police and the intelligence services are well equipped in Germany.
10:51   I won’t say that they are extraordinarily equipped; they have made
10:54   significant improvements in recent years in terms
10:57   of personnel and as far as performance quality is concerned.
11:01   However, the challenges the security authorities are faced with are due
11:06   to the sheer number of cases, and the technology used by our counterparts, it is stunning.
11:15   This sometimes results in police and intelligence agencies operating at their limits.
11:23   More than 200,000 refugees are required to leave the country. Why aren’t the deportations working?
11:30   There’s a whole list of reasons. Starting with the fact that
11:34   the countries of origin are often unwilling to take these people back.
11:38   This is partly due to economic reasons. An asylum seeker in Germany
11:42   transfers money back home which has two benefits.
11:47   On the one hand there is foreign exchange, and on the other hand
11:51   a person who is possibly otherwise unemployed is a burden
11:54   on the domestic labor market or is prone to delinquency, which ultimately
11:58   does harm to his homeland. That’s why they are rarely willing
12:03   to allow these people to re-enter. Another reason is that
12:07   we have very very complicated deportation safeguards.
12:10   Someone in Germany who has German children, is married to a German, or someone
12:14   who may face inhuman, degrading treatment,
12:20   punishment or potentially face the death penalty; he / she is protected from deportation.
12:27   This then frustrates to a large extent the authorities responsible
12:31   for deportation. In addition, there are also so-called NGOs
12:36   that deliberately prevent deportation by helping the deportee hide and so forth.
12:45   Overall one must say that deportation policy in Germany is unfortunately a disaster. Then again,
12:49   Germany is not the only Western European country having difficulty dealing with this problem.
12:54   Is there a deportation industry, as Mr. Dobrindt has said?
12:58   There are a lot of people who earn money off of asylum seekers
13:02   and preventing their deportation. It just needs to be said openly.
13:05   Every asylum seeker costs the state a lot of money, but the money goes into
13:10   the pockets of certain people who make money with them.
13:15   Due to family reunification, many more refugees will be coming
13:19   in the next few years. Their integration would require
13:22   the additional infrastructure of a German city the size of Kassel.
13:27   Is integration of so many actually possible?
13:33   Integration is possible provided there is a proper legal framework.
13:38   In addition to that, encouraging people to be willing to integrate
13:44   or to allow integration. Integration shouldn’t just be requested, but must be demanded.
13:49   This is the requirement that must be expected
13:54   from every foreigner who comes to us. My concern is that there is integration,
13:59   but not an integration into German society.
14:03   Rather it is an integration into Arab society,
14:06   into Salafist society, and into Turkish society in Germany.
14:09   This creates parallel societies, and in my opinion every necessary
14:14   step must be taken to prevent this.
14:18   How has the social climate in Germany changed?
14:22   From my point of view, in recent years it has changed for the worse.
14:26   As President of the Federal Constitutional Protection Agency, it gave me cause for concern.
14:31   Especially due to the fact that many people in Germany
14:37   among the middle class who normally belong to the parties CDU or SPD
14:43   turned away from these parties. Instead they supported or voted for
14:47   the new party AfD, Alternative for Germany, a right-wing party.
14:51   This is a renunciation of established parties and transition to
14:56   a whole new force. This is something we have already seen
15:02   in other Western European countries such as the Netherlands, Italy or even France.
15:07   But this also leads to a breakup of the present party system.
15:12   It could also be seen as an erosion of trust in the ability of the present party system
15:18   to function, and a turning away from this democracy.
15:24   This development still fills me with concern, especially because it was not prevented and continues.
15:31   Now many people are hesitant to express their opinion freely, because they are afraid
15:35   of being labelled “right-wing”. Are you as well?
15:39   No, I don’t worry about being labeled right-wing. However,
15:44   it does concern me that many people, for example, those who approach me
15:49   to say that they agree with what I’ve done, with what I’ve said, and tell me that they support me.
15:54   For instance, when I go to a restaurant, strangers compliment me on my attitude,
15:59   and yet these people don’t dare to utter it otherwise.
16:05   I think that’s a pity, and it reminds me of my own family biography.
16:10   Recently I was listening to a tape recording that I made in 1980
16:15   of my uncle recounting his experience from the time of 1933 to 1945.
16:19   My grandfather was mistreated by the Nazis.
16:22   My uncle had been persecuted by them. Everything he said conjures up
16:26   the memories of totalitarianism and opinion dictatorship, which is still
16:31   possible even today. I’m not saying this is the case in Germany, but that it must be prevented.
16:36   Therefore we must have the courage to say things that others don’t like.
16:41   Does political correctness prevent that? Why else
16:45   would people be afraid to express their opinion freely?
16:49   It could be due to leadership. I’ve said to myself, if I’m not able to
16:54   express my opinion freely, then how can I expect that from my staff?
17:00   My expectation is that leaders in business, in the administration,
17:05   in the government should possess enough backbone to express their position.
17:11   How dangerous do you consider the mosque communities?
17:15   Well, among the many mosque communities in Germany there are several so-called back-alley mosques.
17:23   By that I mean, mosques led by self-proclaimed imams who usually
17:28   belong to Salafism or some other form of radical Islam which they preach.
17:33   In Germany there is no state control of religious societies and
17:38   this ultimately has led to the fact that we have a wild growth of radical
17:44   Muslim mosque communities and in these mosque communities, young people are definitely radicalised.
17:52   And sometimes recruited?
17:56   And sometimes recruited for radical Islamism. You could say that the Salafist mosque communities
18:01   are a kind of gateway station which leads to jihadism.
18:06   What do you think of the proposed legislation to withdraw German passports
18:10   from terrorists returning from the Middle East?
18:14   I think it is right and important to have such a law. In fact,
18:18   I had already demanded it. Now it is a little too late, in my opinion.
18:23   We needed to have this law in place before these people went to join ISIS,
18:27   and not when they want to come back to Germany.
18:32   Couldn’t it be applied retroactively?
18:36   According to my understanding of the law, it is not possible to adopt such a rule retroactively.
18:41   Should other constitutional lawyers consider it a possibility then that would be good in my view.
18:47   I suspect there would be vigorous legal objections.
18:51   And what happens to the jihadists or the terrorists who
18:55   could now possibly return to Germany? Can it be prevented somehow?
19:00   Generally, anyone with German citizenship, no matter who, has the right to re-enter Germany.
19:09   If they return to Germany and are considered a potential risk,
19:13   the security authorities of the Federal Office
19:16   for the Protection of the Constitution and the police authorities
19:19   will handle the situation. This would be a considerable burden.
19:22   It also quite dangerous if these people harbour a motivation in their heads
19:27   that security authorities aren’t able recognise.
19:32   Following that information, how do see the current security situation for 2019 in Germany?
19:39   I think the security situation is stable. I think the security authorities,
19:44   intelligence services or even the police
19:48   have the security situation under control as well as possible.
19:52   When I say “as well as possible” it means risks remain.
19:55   Those risks are the many thousands of people we don’t know of
19:59   and can’t see what is going on in their heads.
20:02   Those at their computers in the evening, communicating
20:06   With other jihadists or perhaps downloading bomb instructions
20:10   to commit an attack the next day. I think we are a safe country
20:14   when compared with many other nations of the world.
20:19   However, the concern is that these risks are occurring
20:23   and that shouldn’t have been allowed to happen.
20:26   Even today, every second refugee comes to Germany without valid papers.
20:30   What kind of security risk does that present?
20:35   Well, if a person comes to Germany without valid papers we don’t know who this person really is.
20:44   We can’t rely on information they give us. We’ve had people
20:47   who claimed their name was Abo Coca-Cola or
20:50   Ronny Ice Cube requesting permission to enter Germany.
20:54   Even if the database or the database of my ministry
20:59   at the time was good and had very good exchange with
21:03   all European intelligence agencies. And our databases are full.
21:07   So even if we have the name of a certain person and know
21:10   that certain people are a danger, none of that helps
21:13   when that person enters Germany with a fictitious name.
21:17   Therefore we have a huge interest in making sure that
21:21   people coming to Germany have a name that is corresponds to valid travel documents.
21:29   According to current statistics, the number of citizens who fear becoming a victim
21:35   of a crime or a terrorist attack rose enormously in 2018.
21:40   A sense of security is not reflected in those statistics. How do you explain that?
21:49   I think this is partly because many people perceive the security situation
21:54   personally. It could be through the television
21:58   news coverage, newspaper articles or through experience of their own.
22:02   That’s one way it is perceived differently from the statistics.
22:06   Secondly, I think it could simply be because many people notice the changes
22:11   in the streetscape, in the neighbourhood, and
22:16   perceive it as a personal threat. These personal threats
22:21   are then reflected in the fact that these individuals may choose to
22:26   vote for the AFD or other parties not previously in the Bundestag.
22:31   Another way these people are expressing their anxiety is
22:36   by equipping themselves with irritant sprayers or installing alarm systems and so forth.
22:43   What do you think the future holds? Monitoring everywhere? What does Germany look like in 2030?
22:57   2030 is of course very far into the future. Honestly,
23:01   I’m not thinking that far out, but as an intelligence officer it is necessary
23:06   to imagine possible scenarios and create forecasts.
23:12   From my point of view the decisive indicator for a prognosis would be:
23:18   What does Germany look like by the end of this year or in three years
23:22   if we don’t change anything; if we just maintain the status quo?
23:27   What worries me is the immense refugee pressure from the Middle East,
23:31   North Africa, and that many more people will come to us.
23:35   If we continue to try to accommodate them, to provide for them,
23:40   that perhaps the German economy won’t work as it did in the last few years.
23:45   This will result in a significant financial burden for everyone.
23:51   Crime and terrorism would continue to increase even though ISIS has been defeated
23:58   in Iraq, they are still there in Iraq. So we have to assume that ISIS
24:03   will continue to plan in Germany and other parts of western Europe.
24:08   Taking all that into consideration, we can expect more terror attacks,
24:13   increased criminality, and increased insecurity among citizens
24:18   within the next three years. People will no longer feel comfortable in their own
24:22   Communities; they will no longer feel understood
24:27   or represented by the political sphere, which could lead to radicalisation.
24:31   We have experienced it in other Western European nations and
24:34   it also led relatively quickly, in some nations, to the government being voted out.
24:41   Thank you very much. With pleasure.