Berlin police are not allowed to track down terrorists on the Internet

Gunnar Schupelius comments in the daily newspaper BZ: 

The Syrian Abdul H. (26) lived in Meraner Street (in the Berlin district of Schöneberg). He was arrested on Monday by the special unit “GSG 9”. According to Federal Attorney General Peter Frank, Abdul H. wanted to detonate a bomb “in order to kill and injure as many people as possible”. He had acquired the necessary components and manuals via the Internet. Interior Senator Geisel ( Social Democrats ) reported that Abdul H. had been observed since the beginning of the year. However, the German investigators did not find his track until they had been informed by a “friendly foreign intelligence service”. This term refers to either the American services (NSA, CIA, FBI) or the British services (MI 5, MI 6, GCHQ) or the Israeli Mossad. In the past three years, the German authorities have prevented eight serious Islamist terrorist attacks, most recently on the 12th of November in Offenbach. The decisive clues always came from the “friendly services”.Why can’t Germany help itself? Do we have worse policemen? No, but worse equipment and high legal hurdles. Abdul H. was caught trying to get the bomb via the news service “Telegram” on his smartphone. The “friendly services” caught him because they routinely monitor Internet hotspots with semantic analysis methods. They use their computers to focus on keywords. If one of these terms appears spoken or written, the sender is traceable.This search without suspicion is not permitted in Germany. Whoever plans a terrorist attack here remains undetected for the time being. And even if a suspicion arises, the hands of the Berlin police are tied.Because then it would have to intercept the messages that the suspect exchanges for example on Whatsapp and which are encrypted there. This is called “source telecommunications surveillance” (“source-TKÜ”). The police would also have to investigate the suspect’s hard drive and cloud. This is called an “online search. Both are regulated in the police laws of the federal states, both are permitted in Bavaria, for example, but not in Berlin. In Brandenburg, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) wanted to implement both in the new police law, but was prevented from doing so by the Leftist Party.The prevention of danger and thus the task of keeping an eye on endangered persons is primarily the task of the federal states. The Berlin police are not provided with the necessary resources. The Leftists and Greens, who have been preventing the Senator of the Interior from passing a new police law for the past two years, make sure of this.”In the capital, of all places, the level of security is lower than in all other federal states because the police have the fewest powers here,” says Rainer Wendt, Federal Chairman of the German Police Union (DPolG). There is nothing more to add.

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