Germany: Number of asylum-seekers drop but still ‘too high’
BERLIN (AP) — The number of asylum-seekers arriving in Germany dropped significantly to some 186,000 last year, but the country's interior minister said Tuesday he still considers that figure "much too high."
German commando who led mission that ended 1977 hijack dies
BERLIN (AP) — The commander of a German paramilitary unit that ended the 1977 hijacking of a plane by Palestinian militants has died.
Ulrich Wegener was the first commander of the GSG-9 unit, created in response to German security services' failure to prevent the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.
It gained international renowned with the storming of the Lufthansa jet 'Landshut' in Mogadishu, Somalia, without any loss of life among the 86 hostages or commandos.
Germany extends facial recognition test at rail station
BERLIN (AP) — Germany's top security official is extending tests of automatic facial recognition technology after an initial six-month trial showed the system had a good success rate.
The tests used high-quality pictures of more than 200 volunteers to identify them as they passed through Berlin's Suedkreuz railway station.
Top security official: Germany’s learned lessons from attack
BERLIN (AP) — Germany' Interior Minister says the country's security agencies have made big improvements in their surveillance of suspected extremists since a truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market that killed 12 people almost a year ago.
Thomas de Maiziere said Thursday after a meeting with senior security officials that restrictions on communications monitoring had been eased and authorities can force people they consider potential threats to wear electronic tags.
Xmas markets across Germany open amid heightened security
BERLIN (AP) — Traditional Christmas markets are opening across Germany amid heightened security, almost a year after a terror attack on a Berlin Christmas market killed 12.
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere called on Germans Monday not to stay away out of fear, saying "Christmas markets are part of our life and culture."
But he also said that, "the terror threat is simply very high. Anytime. Anywhere."
German official’s proposal for Muslim holidays gets rejected
BERLIN (AP) — A senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's party has been rebuked by his own political allies for suggesting that Germany might introduce public holidays to celebrate the Islamic religion.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told a party rally in northern Germany this week that he was willing to discuss Islamic holidays in areas with large Muslim populations.
There are an estimated 4.7 million Muslims in Germany, mostly immigrants from Turkey.
Germany to extend some border controls for another 6 months
BERLIN (AP) — The German government says it will extend passport controls along some of its national borders for another six months starting in November.
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said in a written statement Thursday that the authorities will continue controls along the German-Austrian border and on flights coming in from Greece.
German officials see no sign of election hacking _ yet
BERLIN (AP) — German officials say there's no sign of concerted cyberattacks aimed at influencing the outcome of the country's upcoming election, but warned Wednesday against giving the all-clear yet.
Germany bans far-left website accused of promoting violence
BERLIN (AP) — Germany's Interior Ministry has banned an internet site on allegations it was being used to foment left-wing extremist violence, including at this summer's G-20 summit.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said Friday the site "linksunten.indymedia.org" was responsible for mobilizing "violent actions and attacks on infrastructure" targets. Among other things, he says the site provided information on how to build gasoline bombs and other incendiary devices with timers.
BERLIN (AP) — German authorities have launched a six-month test of automatic facial recognition technology at a Berlin railway station, which the country's top security official says could be used to improve security in the future.
More than 200 people volunteered to have their names and two photos stored for the project at Suedkreuz station, where three cameras film an entrance and an escalator.
BERLIN (AP) — Germany's justice minister called Monday for better exchange of information on violent extremists in the European Union following the riots that accompanied the Group of 20 summit.
Hamburg saw three nights of violence amid anti-globalization protests as leaders of the world's biggest economic powers met. Police arrested 186 and temporarily detained a further 225 people.
BERLIN (AP) — The head of Germany's domestic intelligence agency and Germany's interior minister warn that Russia is engaged in hacking attacks and that officials "assume there will be such attempts on Germany" ahead of national elections on Sept. 24.
BERLIN (AP) — Germany's parliament has approved a plan to allow for the surveillance of suspects' communications on messaging services such as WhatsApp.
The news agency dpa reported that parliament's lower house passed the legislation Thursday with the governing coalition's votes. It expands investigators' ability to install surveillance software on suspects' devices, so far limited to terrorism cases, to crimes including tax evasion or computer fraud.
BERLIN (AP) — Germany's state and federal security officials have agreed upon new measures to strengthen their ability to fight terrorism and crime, including allowing authorities to monitor suspects' use of WhatsApp and other messaging services.
BERLIN (AP) — Germany's top security official says he's ordered the re-examination of up to 100,000 decisions granting asylum to migrants after uncovering mistakes in a smaller probe undertaken after a German soldier was able to pass himself off as a Syrian refugee in a bizarre far-right plot.
BERLIN (AP) — Senior security officials in Germany said Monday they are optimistic about intelligence sharing with the United States and Britain, despite friction in other policy areas in recent months.
Speaking at a gathering of intelligence experts in Berlin, Germany's top security official said cooperation with the Trump administration was "excellent" when it came to combating terrorism.
BERLIN (AP) — A senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's party says "enlightened patriotism" should be part of Germany's national culture.
Thomas de Maiziere, Germany's interior minister, says Nazi-era nationalism and the hesitancy that followed "are all over now, especially for the younger generation." He is proposing ten principles for German identity amid a debate about the country's identity during a time of mass immigration.
BERLIN (AP) — Germany's top security official is proposing a law change to stop a far-right party from receiving public funds.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said Friday after consultations with the Justice Ministry and Finance Ministry he'd submitted a proposal for legal amendments to the heads of parties in Parliament, where the changes would have to be made.
Germany: Turkish spy list may be deliberate provocation
BERLIN (AP) — Germany's interior minister said Thursday that Turkey's intelligence agency may have given its German counterpart a list of suspected supporters of a U.S.-based cleric to "provoke us in some way."
Last month, Turkey's MIT agency handed German intelligence a list of some 300 alleged supporters of Fethullah Gulen thought to be living in Germany, among them reportedly a German lawmaker.
Officials have said Turkey asked the Germans to put those people under surveillance.
PARIS (AP) — The top security officials in France and Germany are calling for the creation of a European center to combat the radicalization of people the Islamic State group tries to attract with its propaganda.
French Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux and his German counterpart, Thomas de Maiziere, said Wednesday that the European center would not replace national anti-terrorism initiatives, but would link and complement them.
4 convicted of forming German far-right terrorist group
BERLIN (AP) — Three men and a woman were sentenced to prison terms between three and five years Wednesday for forming a far-right terrorist group in Germany with a plan to bomb refugee homes as a tactic to scare migrants into leaving the country.
BERLIN (AP) — A threatened attack against a mall in the western city of Essen is linked to the Islamic State extremist group, Germany's interior minister said Sunday.
Thomas de Maiziere told public broadcaster ARD that Germany's domestic intelligence service, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, had received "tips of an attack and passed them on" to local security authorities in Essen.
German to deport alleged attacker to Tunisia
BERLIN (AP) — A Tunisian man, who allegedly was involved in an attack on the Bardo National Museum that killed more than 20 people in Tunis in 2015, can be deported from Germany.
German public broadcaster ARD reported Sunday that German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere confirmed Tunisia had sent the documents needed to deport him.
The man's name wasn't given, but ARD reported he also participated in a March 2016 attack on a Tunisian town.
Germany approves faster deportation of failed asylum-seekers
BERLIN (AP) — Germany's Cabinet approved a plan Wednesday that will make it easier to deport rejected asylum-seekers.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the measures mean that deportations of rejected asylum-seekers will be faster and more people will be sent back home.
Germany was flooded with 890,000 asylum-seekers in 2015 and has been working to streamline how it deals with them, speeding up granting asylum to those who qualify for it and sending home those who don't.
Germany: 280,000 new migrants last year, far lower than 2015
BERLIN (AP) — Germany saw about 280,000 new asylum-seekers arrive last year, less than a third of the previous year's huge influx of 890,000, the interior minister said Wednesday.
While new arrivals declined, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said that the number of rejected asylum-seekers who left Germany was up — though still not to authorities' satisfaction. In total, 80,000 people either left voluntarily or were deported, he said.
Spy chief says Germany needs ability to counter cyberattacks
BERLIN (AP) — The head of Germany's domestic intelligence agency says the country needs to be able to return fire during a cyberattack, including the ability to disable equipment that's being used to target Germany.
Hans-Georg Maassen told German news agency dpa in an interview published Tuesday that it's necessary "for us not just to be purely defensive."
Maassen, who heads the BfV agency, said Germany "needs to be able to attack the enemy in order to stop him from attacking us further."
Merkel pledges quick security action after Berlin attack
BERLIN (AP) — Chancellor Angela Merkel promised Monday that Germany's government would tackle security issues raised by the Christmas market truck attack and renewed a pledge to make a "national effort" to ensure that failed asylum seekers return home.
The Dec. 19 truck attack in Berlin demanded a swift response that guarantees both security and civil liberties, Merkel said at a conference of civil servants in Cologne.
German interior minister proposes domestic security shake-up
BERLIN (AP) — Germany's interior minister is proposing a security shake-up that could include creating "federal departure centers" to ease the deportation of rejected asylum-seekers and centralizing the country's domestic intelligence agency.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere's suggestions in a guest article Tuesday in the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung followed last month's attack on a Berlin Christmas market.
Germany: 54,000 migrants get grants to return home in 2016
BERLIN (AP) — German authorities approved government funding for more than 54,000 migrants to return to their homelands this year, authorities said Wednesday — paving the way for a significant increase in voluntary departures.
Germany is keen to increase the number of rejected asylum seekers leaving the country after last year's influx of 890,000 migrants.
German leaders want to keep border controls in place
BERLIN (AP) — Senior German politicians say they want to keep border controls imposed amid last year's migrant influx in place beyond mid-February, when they're currently due to expire.
With a national election expected in September and German leaders seeking to draw lessons from last week's attack on a Berlin Christmas market, there's little appetite for dropping border checks.
34 deported Afghan asylum seekers return from Germany
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A group of 34 Afghan asylum seekers returned home on Thursday after being deported from Germany the day before, an official said, a move that was made possible after a recent Afghan-Germany deal to stem the influx into the European country.
The plane carrying the deportees — all young men without families — landed in Kabul around 5 a.m., said the Kabul airport chief of police, Mohammad Asif Jabarkhil.
Germany: Afghan suspect in slaying assaulted woman in Greece
BERLIN (AP) — An Afghan asylum-seeker suspected of raping and killing a 19-year-old university student in Freiburg was also convicted of attempting to kill another woman in Greece but was released early from prison, Germany's top security official said Thursday.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said fingerprints taken from Hussein K. matched prints from the 2013 crime on the Greek island of Corfu.
K., who gave his age as 17, is in custody for the killing of medical student Maria L. in October.
Merkel’s conservatives back tougher rules on dual citizens
BERLIN (AP) — Members of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's party voted Wednesday to scrap rules that allow the children of immigrants to be dual citizens, a move opposed by party leaders and rejected by its partners in government.
German intel to monitor anti-government ‘Reich citizens’
BERLIN (AP) — Germany's top security official says the country's domestic spy agency has started monitoring the so-called Reich Citizens' Movement, whose members have shown an increasing tendency toward violence.
Police recently raided the homes of several self-styled Reich citizens to seize weapons. In one case a man opened fire on police, fatally wounding an officer.
Germany bans Islamic organization, police search 190 sites
BERLIN (AP) — The German government announced Tuesday it had banned an Islamic group, "The true religion," which is suspected of targeting teenagers to radicalize to fight in Syria and Iraq. At the same time, police raided about 190 offices, storehouses, mosques and apartments of members and supporters.
In searches in 60 cities in western Germany and in Berlin, police seized documents, hard drives, smartphones and weapons, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said. Nobody was detained.
5 Islamic State suspects arrested in Germany
BERLIN (AP) — German authorities on Tuesday arrested five men who allegedly aided the Islamic State group in Germany by recruiting members and providing financial and logistical help.
The federal prosecutor's office said in a statement that the men were arrested on suspicion of supporting a terrorist organization. The arrests were made in a series of raids in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia and the northern state of Lower Saxony.
German interior minister lauds detention of terror suspect
BERLIN (AP) — Germany's top security official praised the detention of a suspected member of the Islamic State group in Berlin, saying Thursday that it shows authorities are being vigilant and doing "everything to avoid terrorist attacks in Germany."
The man, who claims to be 27 and from Syria, was taken into custody late Wednesday on suspicion of being a member of IS.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said Thursday, "it is very good this person has been taken out of circulation."
Germany: Fight against IS won’t increase security threat
BERLIN (AP) — Germany's interior minister says efforts to combat the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria won't increase the risk of attacks at home.
Thomas de Maiziere says authorities expect IS fighters from Europe to try to return as the group faces military setbacks, but that authorities are working to minimize security threats.
Germany sees 213,000 new asylum-seekers so far this year
BERLIN (AP) — Some 213,000 asylum-seekers have arrived in Germany this year, keeping it on course for a far lower total than last year's 890,000 entrants, the country's interior minister said Wednesday.
The number of newcomers "is still declining but remains significant," Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said. He said the figure he gave for the first nine months in 2016 reflects the number who "actually registered and entered."