Islamist “mole” exposed at German domestic intelligence agency

Arrest on November 16

A 51-year-old man working at the German domestic intelligence agency – the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz) – has been exposed as an alleged sympathiser of the jihadist cause.

He was arrested on November 16, after he had been placed under surveillance by his own employer for the preceding weeks.((http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/kampf-gegen-den-terror/verfassungsschutz-islamist-suchte-verbuendete-fuer-gewalttat-gegen-unglaeubige-14552367.html )) The 51-year-old had been part of the agency’s office tasked with monitoring the country’s Islamist scene.

His employer appears to have been alerted to the man’s questionable role when he offered advice to a fellow jihadist during an online chat session. The agent noted that he could supply access to the Verfassungsschutz buildings in Cologne in order to facilitate an attack on “unbelievers”. He asserted that he was “ready to do anything to help the brothers”. What he did not know was that his counterpart during the chat was himself working for the Verfassungsschutz.((https://www.tagesschau.de/ausland/islamist-verfassungsschutz-107.html ))

Actions “in the name of Allah”

No clear picture of the man and his potential motivations has emerged so far. Following his arrest, he claimed that he had sought to use his position at the agency to warn his brothers in faith of any potential investigations against them. His actions were, according to him, in accordance with Allah’s will.

Yet while he had mentioned internal matters from the Verfassungsschutz during the abovementioned online conversation, he does not appear to have leaked further information on the agency’s ongoing investigations.((http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/kampf-gegen-den-terror/verfassungsschutz-islamist-suchte-verbuendete-fuer-gewalttat-gegen-unglaeubige-14552367.html )) The man nevertheless presented himself as part of a large-scale plan to “infiltrate” the intelligence office.((https://www.tagesschau.de/inland/islamist-verfassungsschutz-109.html ))

Mental health questions

More than two weeks after the arrest, however, there are ongoing questions as to whether the man is a ‘Salafist’ or ‘jihadist’ or in fact an unstable individual. While in custody, the man has made a range of “mystical allusions” that appear to raise questions about his mental health.((http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/kampf-gegen-den-terror/verfassungsschutz-islamist-suchte-verbuendete-fuer-gewalttat-gegen-unglaeubige-14552367.html ))

He claims to have converted to Islam following a “spontaneous inspiration” in 2014 while on the phone with an unidentifiable “Mohamed” from Austria. Neither his wife nor his four children were aware of his alleged conversion.((https://www.tagesschau.de/inland/islamist-verfassungsschutz-109.html )) The man’s work as an actor in homosexual pornographic movies also at least casts doubt on his hard-line Islamist credentials.((http://www.dw.com/de/islamisten-pornos-und-der-verfassungsschutz-das-r%C3%A4tsel-um-maulwurf-m/a-36596498 ))

Keeping apart investigators and investigated

This cases comes as a renewed blow to Germany’s much-criticised domestic intelligence agency. In recent years, the Verfassungsschutz has been rocked by successive revelations about its role in the series of murders and attacks by the National Socialist Underground (NSU), a far-right terrorist cell.

There have been worrisome questions about the agency’s knowledge and thus de facto complicity in the NSU’s activities: the German neo-Nazi scene is densely populated by the agency’s informants – so densely, in fact, that the Constitutional Court rejected a motion to ban the far-right NPD party in 2005 because it noted that it could not distinguish between party leadership and Verfassungsschutz personnel.

In the present case, the Verfassungsschutz once again appears to be rather too close to the people it seeks to monitor. Indeed, on facebook the suspect not only expressed regret about the recent arrest of Abu Walaa – reported by Euro-Islam – but was also friends not just with a number of Islamists but also with several functionaries from a far-right political party.((https://www.tagesschau.de/inland/islamist-verfassungsschutz-109.html ))

Renewed criticism of the Verfassungsschutz

The agency’s president, Hans-Georg Maaßen, stressed that all necessary security preconditions had been taken when the man was hired. Nevertheless, the fact that an individual who joined the Verfassungsschutz as a lateral entrant in April 2016 – after he had lost his previous job as a bank clerk((https://www.tagesschau.de/ausland/islamist-verfassungsschutz-107.html )) – could gain access to sensitive information so quickly raises considerable questions about the agency’s professionalism.

German parliamentarians also criticised Maassen and his office for failing to notify them immediately: news of the case broke only nearly two weeks after the arrest through revelations by Der Spiegel magazine.((http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/geheimdienst-islamist-schleicht-sich-bei-verfassungsschutz-ein-a-1123676.html ))

The threat of “infiltration”

The call for consequences has been swift: parliamentarians demanded, among other things, that the security checks of all Verfassungsschutz employees be conducted more often. Others called for a more dramatic restructuring of the agency itself.

Beyond these immediate reactions, however, what is likely to stick in the public’s perception is the threat of “infiltration”. As Euro-Islam reported, a recent survey found that 40 per cent of Germans believe that the country and its institutions are already “infiltrated” by Islam.

The media reaction to the suspected mole, at the Verfassungsschutz has most likely not dampened this anxiety. It was noteworthy, for instance, how many news outlets quickly focused on the man’s “conversion”—an act that, after all, seems to have occurred on the phone to an obscure contact in Austria if it occurred at all. ((See e.g. https://www.tagesschau.de/ausland/islamist-verfassungsschutz-107.html, https://www.welt.de/politik/deutschland/article159849913/Islamist-beim-Verfassungsschutz-enttarnt.html )) Conversion, as the ultimate act of infiltration, thus serves as the measuring stick for dangerousness.

Islam Law in Austria

Since the last few months the amendment of the Austrian Islam law is critically discussed by constitutional lawyers, academics as well as members of the Islamic community. However, according to the daily newspaper standard the minister of foreign affairs Sebastian Kurz and other party members of the ÖVP are willing to discuss key points of the Islam law.

Additionally, the Austrian government wants to involve the Islamic community, their leader Fuat Sanac, much stronger in their ambitious project.

In Austria, an amendment to the “Islam Law.”

In Austria, Islam was recognized as a religious corporate body by the Hapsburgian Monarchy in 1914, later on it was also recognized by the Austrian state.

 
However, since recent upcoming radical terrorist groups like IS, the Austrian government partly changes or adds new provisions to the existing Islam law. For example Muslim holidays will be included into the “Christian” calendar. However, the new law forbids Muslim clubs in Austria to accept money from Muslim organizations outside Austria; additionally it also forbids Muslim clubs to support Muslim organizations outside Austria financially. Several Professors in constitutional law, like Theo Öhlinger, criticized the new amendment; according to him the new law would be against the freedom of Religion. Christians, Jews and Buddhists clubs are not facing the same requirements.The mentioned groups are allowed to support their religious groups outside Austria financially and also receive financial support from outside. The Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz defended the states decision by arguing, that currently some Muslim groups are a great threat to the Austrian government.

Presidential elections in Turkey

July 26, 2014

The upcoming presidential elections in Turkey are a recurring theme in several Austrian newspapers. In two weeks Turkey will vote a new president; however, the ORF is reporting on the early voting possibilities for Turks, who live outside of Turkey.

Austria Matura qualifications and citizenship

July 25, 2014

To become an Austrian citizen, one must successfully pass a German language skill exam. According to the ORF, public authorities in Austria even ask those who hold a University degree in German philology to participate at it. However, currently this procedure is discussed among politicians.

Subsequent immigration on family members in Austria

July 10, 2014

The proof of German language skills for family members, who want to immigrate to Austria, is against the treaty of association, which was signed between Turkey and [EWG] EU back in the early sixties (12. Sept. 1963). Austrian law has already been adjusted in 2012. The Austrian press is discussing the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union with regard to the “right” approach to immigration, as well as integration process for people from Turkey.

On Ramadan in Turkey

July 10, 2014

The Standard, one of the Austrians leading daily newspapers, is reporting on the Ramadan tradition. How and why Turkish Muslims or Muslims in general are fasting for the duration of 30 days. The story also focuses on a drummer in Istanbul, who is responsible to wake up the Muslims for “suhur” (the pre-dawn meal).

On Refugee laws in Austria

July 6, 2014

Several Austrian politicians for example Alev Korun member of the Green Party or Johanna Mikl-Leitner member of the ÖVP, expressed their concern about the refugee developments on the Mediterranean region. Mikl-Leitner is supporting a resettlement program, which should help the refugees after a certain time to go back to their home countries. Alev Korun criticized in return Mikl-Leitner, especially since the region has become a “death zone”.

The lack of recognition for the Turkish language

July 6, 2014

According to the Brigitta Busch, Professor of linguistics at the University of Vienna, Austria is generally paying low or no attention and offers no recognition to language diversity inside its borders. In particular, the Turkish language, Busch stresses, does not enjoy any positive reputation; however, since some parts of the government want to establish a Turkish Matura at the Gymnasiums, some politicians from the right are openly showing their assessment.

Turkish culture community response to prime minister Erdongans visit to Vienna

June 22, 2014

A member of the Turkish culture community, Melissa Günes, wrote an op-ed in one of the leading Austrian newspapers. She clearly criticized the Turkish prime minister for calling the Turkish population living in Austria, as descendants of Süleyman the Magnificent and Kara Mustafa Pascha, both very famous Ottoman leaders. According to Günes the Turks in Austria a very proud of their Turkish cultural roots; however, she stresses, they are also proud of their new Austrian country. According to Günes, Turkeys AKP government should focus more on Turkey and guarantee more democratic rights for all members of the Turkish state.