The challenges for the security authorities could hardly be greater. “We are in one of the most fragile global political situations in decades,” said Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) on Thursday in Berlin. Faeser spoke at the symposium of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) on the “Threat to Germany’s internal security – from delegitimization to disinformation”. The minister sees the country in a time of “great changes, uncertainties and dangers”. BfV President Thomas Haldenwang emphasized that “many threatening trends and forecasts require our attention”. In 2022, it seems, the dangers to internal security are enormous in many areas.
Russian disinformation The security authorities are particularly concerned about the escalation of Russian disinformation. Since the beginning of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine in Germany, this has “reached a new dimension”, said Faeser. Putin’s regime wants to solidify the “narrative of an alleged Russophobia in the West”. The minister pointed clearly to the Russian embassy in Berlin.
The diplomats have set up an “SOS” email box to report cases of “bullying, harassment, threats, attacks or physical violence” against Russian nationals. The embassy reports on its website that Russian-speaking women have been threatened by Ukrainian refugees in Koblenz, schoolchildren in Munich are being bullied because of their Russian roots, and an aviation authority has banned “amateur photographer Anastasia S.” from flying a drone outdoors because the woman has Russian citizenship.
Even if the police by no means deny anti-Russian attacks, the veracity of the stories is doubtful. “The alleged cases described on the Russian embassy’s website cannot be verified,” said Faeser. Immediately after the start of the war, her ministry “set up a cross-departmental and cross-agency task force to identify false Russian information.” Faeser also announced a “joint action plan of the federal and state governments against disinformation”.
Russian cyber attacks Even if there hasn’t been a really big attack since the beginning of the war, Russian hacker attacks do cause damage. Last Saturday, the state portal “Berlin.de” and all associated citizen services were paralyzed for two hours. The perpetrators were allegedly activists of the Russian group “Killnet”.
The cybercriminals have been swarming out for some time, and German politicians have also been affected. The BfV also warns against attacks on the websites of companies and research institutions.
Right at the beginning of the war, Russian hackers caused the first horror. On February 24, 5,800 wind turbines from the north German company Enercon could no longer be reached by remote control. Russian hackers had attacked the US satellite operator Viasat and hit 30,000 satellite terminals across Europe. The disconnected wind turbines were part of a much larger damage.
Right-wing extremist terror As if the dangers in the wake of the Russian war of aggression weren’t great enough, the danger of right-wing extremist attacks is also growing in Germany. Assassins are often glorified in clandestine chat groups and sometimes very young Internet users are inspired to commit acts of violence, said BfV boss Haldenwang at the symposium. A creepy case is that of the 16-year-old arrested in Essen last week, who apparently had planned bomb attacks on a school. The police found 16 half-finished explosive devices on the youngster, some of them studded with nails. The Attorney General took over the investigation. This is rare in young people. But there might be more to come. The racist attack by an 18-year-old in the US city of Buffalo, in which ten people died, is often celebrated in Internet forums by young fans of rampages.
No less dangerous was a clique of adults from the “United Patriots” chat groups. The plan was to kidnap Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) and use attacks to interrupt the republic’s power supply in order to trigger a civil war. Police arrested four men in April and seized weapons. The “United Patriots” belong to the aggressive mixed scene of right-wingers, Reich citizens and corona deniers.
A week earlier, the BKA had taken action against neo-Nazis from the “Atomic Weapons Division” and other groups in eleven countries. These right-wing extremists also dream of a civil war.
The potential of such fanatics is growing. The Reich Citizens scene grew by 1,000 people to 21,000 in 2021. The Office for the Protection of the Constitution has also been registering an increase in violent right-wing extremists for some time. In 2019 there were 13,000, in 2020 13,300. The trend continued in 2021, according to security circles.
Fanaticism is becoming more variable and more diffuse The BfV’s warnings about a dissolution of extremism were realized “in a double direction of movement,” said Haldenwang. Movement one: extremists are forcing solidarity with bourgeois forces, such as the right with corona deniers and left-wing extremists with climate activists. Movement two: New scenes like the “delegitimizers” form. This is how the BfV describes the milieu that is radicalized through corona protests and conspiracy theories. According to Haldenwang, a “do-it-yourself extremism that makes use of the Internet’s rummage tables”. Often on Telegram. Islamists are also on the move there. However, given the defeats of the terrorist militia IS, your scene has lost momentum.