Chinesisch-Deutsches Sicherheitssymposium

"International Security Order after the End of the Irak War."

Rainer Arnold, Member of German Parliament


Terrorism -- A German view


Dear ladies and gentlemen,

thank you Mr. Chairman for the friendly introduction.

Let me focus in my speech on two major topics: A general view on the problem and the German policy within the framework of the European Union.

Not to the general aspects of the problem

Terrorism violates the most elementary values of human co-existence and the rules of the national and international order. Terrorism is not just a problem for internal security, but has an extremely significant foreign-policy dimension. Given the number of trouble spots around the globe, the deterioration of state control in some parts of the world, increased mobility and the constant improvement of communications technologies, the globalisation of terrorism has obviously become a real danger. As a global problem, terrorism must and should be met with an international response.

International terrorism is a strategic threat. The new terrorism is different from the organisations with which we are familiar with. Not only is it international, connected by human and electronic networks, and well resourced, it also lacks the constraints of traditional terrorist organisations. These usually wish to win political support and therefore exercise some self-restraint. Ultimately they may be ready to abandon violence for negotiation. In contrast the new terrorist movements seem willing to use unlimited violence and cause massive casualties. For this reason, the idea of obtaining weapons of mass destruction seems to be attractive to them as it is not for traditional terrorist organisations.

The most recent wave of terrorism is linked to violent religious fundamentalism. This arises out of complex causes including the pressures of modernisation, cultural, social and political crises, and the alienation of young people living in foreign societies. This phenomenon is also a part of our own society. In Germany we had to learn, that sometimes religion fundamentals hide undercover of religion tolerance. We had to learn that lesson: Our difficulties started, because we were too tolerant. We also face a new generation of terrorists who are prepared to commit suicide with their terrorist attacks. While in former times most of the terrorists spend a lot of time and energy on the issue how to escape after the attack this new generation is concentrated on the terrorist attack. This makes the new terrorism much more dangerous because their is only little opportunity for intelligence and police to avoid those people from their horrendous crimes.

The terrorist attacks of September 11 awakened the world to the immediacy and dimension of the threat posed by terrorism. Our idea of the typical terrorist - background, motive, weapons and methods - has changed. While attention may previously have focused on the impoverished, oppressed and perhaps sectarian individual or small group, we now find ourselves confronted with a terrorist profile that some may have found unexpected: well-off, educated and seemingly perfectly integrated in Western society. In contrast to most of their "traditional" predecessors, the perpetrators of the September 11 attacks made no prior demands to lend the attacks added force. They rather struck without warning in the hope of inflicting as much damage as possible, and at best provided "reasons" after the fact. While there had previously been speculation about the possible use of weapons of mass destruction by terrorists, September 11 taught us that thousands can be killed and billions of dollars damage caused using simple "conventional" means.

Nearly all international fora have since given the topic of terrorism high priority. It had previously been something of a fringe topic, raised by states that were particularly affected by regional troubles, but now runs like a thread through all debates in all principal international organisations.

Fighting terrorism at European level

The people in Europe too had to learn that our continent is both a target and a base for such terrorists. Logistical bases for Al Qaeda cells have been uncovered in the United Kingdom, in Italy, Spain, Belgium as well as in Germany. As you know one of the main responsible terrorists of the September 11 attack lived in Hamburg. Al Qaeda has named European countries as potential targets. Major attacks on the European territory have been planned but thankfully thwarted yet.

There is intensive cooperation at European Union level on combating terrorism. This cooperation has been clearly stepped up in the aftermath of September 11. In his draft for an European Security Initiative the High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Council, Mister Solana, concludes that Europe could also be confronted with a very radical threat indeed.

The legal basis for the European fight against terrorism are to be found above all in the so-called "third pillar" of the EU, namely in the provisions on police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters. The EU member states are developing a common approach to preventing and combating organised and non-organised crime with a view to establishing a European area of freedom, security and justice. The fight against terrorism is a priority area. This common approach includes closer cooperation between national police, judicial and customs authorities and other criminal prosecution authorities as well as an alignment of national criminal law and an European arrest warrant.

Europol and Eurojust

The European Police Office "Europol" is of particular importance for the fight against terrorism. The Office carefully analyses information from all EU member states and from other international partners and thus gains a concrete insight into possible threat scenarios. Europol informs the EU member states and its partners immediately of new findings so that appropriate protection or prosecution steps can be taken as quickly as possible. Europol is open for cooperation with Non-EU-members too. Following the terrorist attacks, a team of anti-terrorism experts has been established at Europol. A European Judicial Cooperation Unit - "Eurojust" is also being set up to coordinate and support cooperation between national judicial authorities at European level.

EU Plan of Action on combating terrorism

As a reaction to the terrorist attacks in the US, an Extraordinary European Council was called, at Germany's proposal, in 2001, to adopt a comprehensive plan of action on the fight against terrorism. After various councils had met for extraordinary meetings in the run-up to the European Council and the EU Heads of State and Government had adopted a joint declaration on September 13, 2001, the aim of the Extraordinary European Council was to flesh out and extend current measures by issuing many concrete mandates. The Presidency of the Council collated all tasks in an EU Plan of Action which is constantly being updated and now contains more than 70 individual measures. Apart from judicial and domestic policy projects, these include foreign, transport and financial policy tasks related to the fight against terrorism, for example the stabilisation of the situation in Afghanistan, improving flight safety or combating the financing of terrorism. In June 2002, measures were added which primarily serve to counter illegal immigration but which also feed into the fight against terrorism. These include visa policy measures such as the annual review of the list of countries requiring visas and measures to fight the counterfeiting of visas by including a photograph.

The current Presidency continued to work for the implementation of the EU Plan of Action on combating terrorism and the strengthening of police and judicial cooperation in the field of combating terrorism. On the basis of the experience gained by the intelligence services and criminal prosecution authorities in the member states, the Presidency worked to evaluate the typical profile analysis of terrorists. This assessment was to serve as a general investigative instrument to help prevent and combat terrorism in the member states. In this context a list of terrorist organisations is updated for the criminal prosecution authorities in the member states and an annual report on terrorism is drawn up. Generally, the prosecution and investigation of terrorist acts was to be carried out in close cooperation with the United States. To this end, the Presidency negotiated an agreement on legal aid and extradition with the United States. The cooperation agreement will embrace the deployment of joint investigation teams, the extradition of nationals and the prosecution of political crimes.

Human rights are of high priority in German Policy. We are deeply convinced that human rights are not a luxury which can be pushed into the background when security policy is top of the agenda. Quite the opposite is true. Promoting human rights, democracy, good governance and the rule of law is as well as economic aid to developing countries the most reliable basis for lasting stability and peace.

The international community must take a firm stand against the recent alarming tendency to justify human rights violations as part of the fight against terrorism. There must not be an anti-terrorism "bonus".

This is especially for those countries, which common values are threatened by terrorists. We should conjointly avoid anything which could be of any use for terrorists.