The proposals call for hiring more federal police officers; making it a crime to express sympathy for terrorism; greater sharing of intelligence data across Europe; a closer watch on the web; and making it easier to deport foreigners deemed to be dangerous.
BERLIN — The German government proposed new measures Thursday to bolster security and combat terrorism, its strongest official response to two recent attacks by terrorists pledging loyalty to the Islamic State group and a deadly shooting rampage in Munich.
Many of the measures, which include closer monitoring of refugees and enhanced surveillance, seem likely to win legislative approval. The proposals were unveiled at a time when Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing accusations that the welcome she gave last year to migrants streaming to the continent from Syria and other nations in the Middle East has compromised security.
The proposals announced by Interior Minister Thomas de Maizire call for the hiring of more federal police officers; making it a crime to express sympathy for terrorism; greater sharing of intelligence data across Europe; a closer watch on the “dark web,” the part of the internet that is invisible to ordinary users; stripping dual citizens of their German citizenship if they fight for extremist groups; and making it easier to deport foreigners deemed to be dangerous.
Strengthening the federal government’s intelligence-gathering powers is particularly fraught for a country where the legacies of Nazi and Communist control have left a deep suspicion of centralized authority and official surveillance, and where the powers of the central government remain limited because of the history of totalitarian control.
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Ralf Stegner, a leading Social Democrat, said that the plan was the clear result of “public pressure in the last few weeks,” which made terrorism more a reality than an abstraction.
Last year, 1.1 million foreigners migrated to Germany — a record — and the country received 442,000 asylum applications. Merkel, who faces national elections next year, has insisted that Germany can successfully assimilate the newcomers, but the recent attacks have strained the coalition government she leads.
In announcing the measures Thursday, de Maizire emphasized that Germany “must change” in the face of new threats, by showing enhanced vigilance, deploying new technologies and even, in some cases, overriding the strong post-World War II concerns about privacy.
He said he wanted to install sophisticated video equipment in about 20 significant railroad stations, and to improve the sharing of surveillance footage among law-enforcement agencies, adding that the shooting rampage in Munich, which killed nine people at a shopping mall, showed that public spaces were potential “soft targets” for terrorists.
The Munich rampage was the work of a teenager, Ali Sonboly, who had been in psychiatric treatment and was fascinated by previous mass shootings. The pistol he used, a Glock 17, was a former theater weapon, apparently bought on the internet, that had been restored to be able to shoot live rounds. De Maizire proposed much tighter European regulations to register such weapon conversions and to crack down on internet arms sales.
Similarly, his proposals to monitor newly arrived refugees and people susceptible to radicalization seemed aimed at preventing terrorist attacks like the two perpetrated by Islamic State group adherents last month.
The first, on July 18, was carried out by a person identified only as a 17-year-old Afghan who was living with a foster family in Bavaria. He wounded four people on a train with an ax and a knife, and then attacked a woman walking her dog; he was later shot by the police. Six days later, in Germany’s first Islamist suicide attack, a 27-year-old Syrian blew himself up outside a music festival in Ansbach and wounded 15. The authorities had previously ordered him deported, and, on Thursday, de Maizire announced further measures to make it easier to deport foreign criminals.
Other measures he proposed included combing the social media profiles of refugees and other migrants to look out for signs of radicalization, as authorities in the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden have done.