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Viewing cable 07BERLIN1767, TERRORISM ARRESTS DEMONSTRATE THREAT OF HOMEGROWN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07BERLIN1767 2007-09-19 10:10 2010-12-08 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Berlin
VZCZCXRO1818
PP RUEHAG RUEHROV
DE RUEHRL #1767/01 2621047
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 191047Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY BERLIN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9307
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAHLC/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEFHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BERLIN 001767 

SIPDIS 

STATE FOR EUR/AGS, EUR/PGI AND S/CT 
SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/17/2017 
TAGS: PTER PGOV PREL KHLS KJUS GM
SUBJECT: TERRORISM ARRESTS DEMONSTRATE THREAT OF HOMEGROWN 
ISLAMIC EXTREMISM 

REF: A. BERLIN 1681 
B. BERLIN 1398 
C. MUNICH 218 

Classified By: DCM John M. Koenig for Reasons 1.4(b) and (d). 

Summary 

1. (C) The September 4 arrests of three terrorist suspects, 
two of whom are German citizens who converted to Islam, has 
given Germany its first high-profile case of homegrown 
Islamic terrorism and focused attention on the southern 
German area of Ulm/Neu-Ulm, which authorities have long 
identified as a hotbed of radical Islam. The arrests of 
Gelowicz and Schneider, both ethnic Germans and life-long 
residents of Germany, have changed public perceptions 
concerning the threat of Islamic extremism in Germany and 
raised questions within political circles as to what 
potential measures should be taken to more closely monitor 
extremists. Furthermore, the news that the three suspects 
received instructions from Pakistan-based Islamic Jihad Union 
(IJU) leadership has generated a new awareness and 
recognition of the need to increase surveillance capabilities 
as well as enhance cooperation with international partners. 
The Interior and Justice Ministries are preparing legislation 
to strengthen the capabilities of prosecutors and increase 
the investigative powers of security officials to counter the 
homegrown terrorist threat. End Summary 

Germany's First Homegrown Islamic Terrorists 
-------------------------------------------- 

2. (U) The September 4 arrests of three suspects planning 
large-scale attacks in Germany has sent shockwaves through 
Germany, given that two of the alleged terrorists, Fritz 
Gelowicz and Daniel Martin Schneider, were German citizens 
with non-immigrant backgrounds who converted to Islam as 
teenagers (Ref A). Previous terrorist cases over recent 
history have typically involved individuals with immigrant 
backgrounds and/or dual nationalities who were generally 
raised as Muslims from birth. Although there has been at 
least one previous instance in which a German convert has 
taken up arms in the cause of Islam (e.g., Thomas "Hamza" 
Fischer who died fighting in Chechnya in 2003), the current 
case is the first in which such converts were planning their 
attacks on German soil against German (and U.S.) targets. 

3. (U) Media coverage and editorials immediately following 
the arrests have expressed shock at how Gelowicz and 
Schneider, who had been raised in unremarkable typical German 
circumstances, managed to adopt an Islamic extremist ideology 
and plan violence against their fellow citizens. There has 
been much hand-wringing and anxious speculation on how many 
other potential homegrown terrorists in Germany might be 
planning similar attacks. A poll (by the national polling 
firm Emnid) taken shortly following the arrests indicated 
that 85 percent of the public believe the threat of terrorist 
attacks in Germany has increased. This same poll showed that 
56 percent of the public believe a strengthening of security 
legislation is the best response to the new threat. 

4. (U) As the arrests have highlighted the homegrown 
terrorist threat, there have been calls for government 
monitoring of German converts to Islam, who number in the 
thousands each year. Though not likely to see the 
legislative light of day (see Septel), this proposal is a 
reaction to the perception that converts often tend to be 
more zealous believers in their new faith compared to those 
born into the religion. Minister Schaeuble, who leads the 
Federal government's "German Islam Conference" initiative, 
which attempts to promote an intercultural dialogue with the 
Muslim community, commented that "One thing is certain: 
fighting the abuse of Islam and exaggerated fundamentalism 
is, above all, a task for the Muslims themselves." 

Ulm/Neu-Ulm - Centers of Radicalization 
--------------------------------------- 

5. (U) The Federal Prosecutors Office has identified a number 
of German cities as centers of Islamic associations and 
potential sites for extremism, including Ulm, Neu-Ulm, 
Braunschweig, Cologne, Berlin and Muenster. Of these, the 
neighboring cities of Ulm and Neu-Ulm have figured the most 

BERLIN 00001767 002 OF 003 


prominently over the past decade as breeding grounds for 
Islamic extremists. Ulm, a mid-sized city (population 
120,000) in Germany's relatively conservative southern state 
of Baden-Wuerttemberg, is a leading center for scientific 
research and birthplace of Albert Einstein. Ulm was rated as 
Germany's most healthy city by the health-oriented magazine 
"Healthy Living" in a nationwide survey last month. Neu-Ulm 
(population 51,000) is located on the eastern side of the 
Danube river in Bavaria. 

6. (U) The cities received an influx of Muslim refugees from 
Bosnia in the mid 1990s, adding to their existing Muslim 
communities which came mainly from Turkey. Despite their 
traditionally moderate take on Islam, Bosnian Muslims 
developed ties with international extremists who were often 
viewed as the first to respond in Bosnia's hour of need. 
During the 1990s, the region was seen as a staging point for 
Muslim extremist fighters going to Bosnia. More recently, 
Ulm and Neu-Ulm have both hosted organizations that have 
played central roles in Germany's radical Islamist spheres. 

7. (C) The Multicultural House (MCH) in Neu-Ulm was founded 
in 1996 and in the nine years that it was open attracted a 
series of noteworthy individuals and Islamic extremists 
including: 

-- Mahmoud Salim, Osama Bin Laden's chief of financial 
operations who visited in September 1998. 

-- Reda Seyam, alleged to be one of the planners of the Bali 
attacks of 12 October 2002. 

-- Dr. Yehia Yousif, an Egyptian who first came to Germany in 
1988 as a researcher but later became a jihad recruiter and 
hate preacher who took on a leading role at the MCH. Yousif 
left Germany in 2002 as investigations of his activities 
increased. Yousif's oldest son, who is alleged to have spent 
time in a Pakistan terrorist training camp, was deported 
after investigators found bomb-making instruction manuals in 
his apartment. 

-- Khaled al-Masri was a visitor to the MCH. 

-- Mohammed Atta, one of the 9/11 terrorist pilots, is 
reported to have visited the MCH. 

-- Fritz Gelowicz is reported to have been a frequent visitor 
of the MCH. 

8. (C) Following prolonged observation and investigation, 
Bavarian officials finally closed the MCH on 28 December 2005 
and banned it on grounds that it promoted activities hostile 
to the constitution. Bavarian authorities indicate that MCH 
members had used the facility as a recruiting station for 
global jihad and distribution source of extremist literature. 
The ban was subsequently confirmed by the courts in January 
2007 (Ref C). 

9. (C) The Islamic Information Center (IIC), founded in 1999 
and located in Ulm, has developed into a center of extremist 
activity particularly following the closure of the MCH. 
Given its location in a different federal state, 
Baden-Wuerrtemberg security officials monitoring the IIC have 
needed to overcome coordination issues with their 
counterparts in Bavaria to ensure that extremists cannot 
escape observations by merely crossing the Danube river. 
Baden-Wuerttemberg authorities have listed the IIC as an 
extremist center since 2003. Fritz Gelowicz is reported to 
have joined the center in 2005 under the name Abdullah after 
following an introduction by his co-worker Tolga Duerbin. 

10. (C) Authorities searched the IIC in conjunction with the 
September 4 arrests and hope that materials collected will 
enable them to close the center. Baden-Wuerrtemberg Minister 
of Interior Heribert Rech commented that he is confident that 
these materials will be sufficient to close the IIZ 
permanently. Ulm's mayor has also expressed the desire to 
close the center. 

Links to International Networks 
------------------------------- 

11. (C) All three of the terrorist suspects arrested 

BERLIN 00001767 003 OF 003 


September 4 are believed to have trained in Islamic Jihad 
Union (IJU) camps in Pakistan, and shortly following the 
arrests IJU leadership issued a statement confirming that the 
three had indeed been operating under IJU direction. The 
confirmation of this connection between an overseas terrorist 
organization and the Germany-based suspects demonstrates that 
the terrorist threat to Germany had reached a new level. 
Previous Islamic terrorism cases in Germany have not reached 
this level of sophistication and organization. 

12. (C) The arrests in Pakistan and subsequent deportations 
back to Germany of multiple German citizens, or those with 
German residency permission, in the past few months has 
proven just how potentially widespread the links are between 
Germany-based Islamic extremists and overseas terrorist 
leadership. Some of these individuals, such as Tolga 
Duerbin, have been arrested on their return to Germany while 
others, such as Aleem Nasir and Nihad C., have been permitted 
to remain free. In any case terrorist training camp 
returnees are cause for concern among security officials. 

Government Responses 
-------------------- 

13. (U) In a September 16 interview Minister Schaeuble summed 
up how the arrests had changed the political debate, saying: 
"We now know better than before that we are very much in the 
focus of Islamist terrorists." Since the arrests, Schaeuble 
has increased his calls for quick cabinet agreement on a 
number of legislative proposals to enhance the powers of the 
Federal Criminal Police (BKA) in counterterrorism 
investigations, as well as to permit the surveillance of the 
computers of terrorism suspects (Ref B). This proposal for 
on-line computer investigations has been particularly 
controversial due to privacy concerns but Schaeuble has 
remained adamant, stating "We will not submit a BKA bill 
without including the option of on-line searches." 

14. (U) Separately, the Justice Ministry has drafted a 
proposal that would significantly increase prosecutorial 
powers aimed at those who train in foreign terrorist camps as 
well as permit authorities to take earlier action against 
those in the planning stages of a terrorist attacik (see 
Septel for analysis). 

15. (U) This cable has been coordinated and developed jointly 
with Consulates General Munich and Frankfurt. 
TIMKEN JR