John Rosenthal is a writer who specializes in European politics, particularly Germany and France. He recently wrote a review of a new book authored by a former agent of the German Federal Office of Criminal Investigations, the Bundeskriminalamt (BKA), Michael Von Wedel. The BKA is the German version of the FBI and, like the FBI, has a significant oversees operational program. Von Wedel was a BKA Chief Inspector assigned to key counter-terrorism investigations immediately after the 9/11 attacks on the United States.
Von Wedel's book, Settling Accounts: A Former BKA Inspector Tells All, highlights what he claims is a notably lackluster and often haphazard approach to counter-terrorism by German authorities. Von Wedel ultimately was removed from the BKA and even lost his pension, supposedly over his strong disagreements with BKA management concerning the agency's ant-terrorism procedures and policies.
In his review, Rosenthal cites examples of Germany's poor track record in conducting counter-terrorism operations. One such incident involved intense back-door efforts by the BKA and the German foreign intelligence service to have an Egyptian-born German citizen, who was believed to be the financier behind the deadly 2002 Bali bombing attack, expeditiously returned to Germany from Indonesia before the CIA and other American authorities had a chance to take him into custody. Those German efforts ostensibly were to allow German prosecutors to bring charges against the suspect; however, when returned to Germany, the alleged terror mastermind was set free and even granted substantial social welfare payments and public housing.
Rosenthal identifies a significant disdain for US counter-terrorism policies within the BKA and the German intelligence service. German authorities appear to view the efforts of their American counterparts, supposed allies, as too heavy handed. German counter-terror efforts, however, have focused primarily on what are described as "small fish" and have allowed senior terror operatives, including those linked to al-Qaeda, to go free. Von Wedel's book attributes much of this German complacency to a de facto nonaggression pact the government has with certain Islamic terror organizations, including Hizballah, that allows the organizations to operate essentially unmolested within Germany as long as they do not mount attacks on German soil.
The review is notably insightful and raises serious questions about how German security services deal with terrorists, especially Islamic terrorists, within their midst. On the heels of recent reports that Europe's Muslims are expected to constitute one-fifth of the continent's population by 2050, one of these questions might be whether the German approach really is misguided appeasement.
The full review can be seen here.