Anti-terrorism at walking pace: Little European Union action against right-wing extremists

Only after the attack in Christchurch did the EU Commission and the Council take violent right-wing extremism and terrorism more seriously. However, no progress has been made in the cross-border fight against the phenomenon. Some Member States are putting the brakes on political decisions and consider terrorist attacks only as „extremism“.

On 15 March 2019, the Australian-born right-wing terrorist Brenton Tarrant shot 51 people in cold blood and injured another 50 in Christchurch, New Zealand. The perpetrator is considered a „lone wolf“ or „lone actor“, i.e. an individual who has radicalised himself in right-wing forums and social media on the internet. For many years, European police and secret services have monitored and prosecuted the phenomenon exclusively in the field of Islamist terrorism. Only after the momentous attack did cross-border right-wing networks and „lone actors“ radicalised through their structures find their way onto the EU agenda.

There are well-organised right-wing extremist associations such as Blood and Honour, Combat 18, Hammerskins, Soldiers of Odin, the Nordic Resistance Movement or the Identitarians, which all operate throughout Europe and also have connections on other continents. Their activities were partly observed by the EU, but not perceived as a threat. The EU police agency Europol publishes the „Trend Report on Terrorism in Europe“ (TESAT) every year. There, „right-wing terrorism“ is still at the end of the document after „jihadist terrorism“, „ethno-nationalist and separatist terrorism“ and „left-wing terrorism“, where Europol counts mainly arson attacks in the member states. „Anti-terrorism at walking pace: Little European Union action against right-wing extremists“ weiterlesen

Germany wants EU concept for „persons considered a potential terrorist or violent extremist threat“

In Germany there is no legal definition of „Gefährder“. They are persecuted for acts they have not yet committed. The Federal Government now wants to exchange more data on this group of people throughout the EU.

Actually, the police should prosecute suspects or defendants of a crime. Its tasks also include the prevention of a „concrete danger“, such as that emanating from persons called „troublemakers“ in police jargon. With the „Gefährder“ a third police target group has been sneaking into German law for two decades, as Heiner Busch expressed it in the magazine CILIP. This marked the beginning of a new stage in the shifting of criminal prosecution to the preliminary stage: threats are being prosecuted that have not yet even occurred.

Before the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, football fans or political activists were referred to as „Gefährder“, but now the category is mostly used in connection with terrorism. There is no legal term for it, instead it is a working definition, which the heads of the state criminal investigation offices and the Federal Criminal Police Office vaguely outlined for the first time in 2004. According to this concept, a „Gefährder“ is a person in respect of whom „certain facts justify the assumption that they will commit politically motivated crimes of considerable importance“. „Germany wants EU concept for „persons considered a potential terrorist or violent extremist threat““ weiterlesen

EU police forces plan new information system

European police authorities have numerous applications for communication and information exchange. Member States are now developing another platform for large-scale police operations and terrorist attacks. The European domestic secret services have a similar system.

Several European police authorities are developing a new system for the exchange of information in real time. Under the name „Quick Response for Operational Centers“ (QROC), the affiliated units are to coordinate their response following a terrorist attack. The instrument could also be used to provide support in case of major events and crises. Several Member States are currently looking for appropriate solutions, and corresponding efforts are also being made in the context of the Corona crisis.

According to the project’s website, the exchange of data on events and persons possibly involved could subsequently be carried out via the so-called „Swedish Initiative“. The Council Framework Decision of 2006 sets short deadlines for the cross-border transfer of personal data. It would also be possible to use the Prüm Framework, which enables the responsible services throughout Europe to query biometric data or data on vehicle owners. „EU police forces plan new information system“ weiterlesen

New database at Eurojust: Who’s a terrorist?

The EU has a Criminal Record Information System since 2012, but last week a second database was introduced only for „terrorist threats“. Its added value is unclear and may be the search for „interconnections“. The system also includes „right-wing and left-wing extremist groups“ in Europe.

Last week, the European Union set up another information system on „terrorist threats“. Since 1 September, data from criminal procedures can be stored in a „Judicial Counter-Terrorism Register“ (CTR). The database is maintained by Eurojust, the judicial authority of the European Union based in The Hague. The Agency is responsible for judicial cooperation.

The creation of the new „Judicial Counter-Terrorism Register“ is an initiative of the governments of France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Past extensions of police information systems have mostly been justified by the increase in Islamist terrorism. However, the new anti-terror register will also cover „right-wing and left-wing extremist groups“ in Europe. „New database at Eurojust: Who’s a terrorist?“ weiterlesen

„Crawling, monitoring and gathering“: EU funds search engine for criminal Internet content

European police authorities and arms companies are working on a „powerful terrorism intelligence platform“ on the Internet. It is intended to track down material to promote violence and radicalisation. The technology thus goes far beyond the threat of upload filters.

In the security research programme „TENSOR“, the European Union is developing automatic detection of criminal content on the Internet. The technology is to find material that can „contribute to the advancement of terrorist violence and radicalisation“ in an automated process. On the project website, this is referred to as „crawling, monitoring and gathering“. Described as a tool for „Internet penetration“, it should also operate in multilingual social media and use „dialogue-empowered bots“ with artificial intelligence. Found criminal content will then be categorized and interpreted so that it can be used by law enforcement agencies. The software would also be used in Darknet.

The project is the technical implementation of the demand for „early detection“ of terrorist organised activities, radicalisation and recruitment as called for by the European Union in the Council Conclusions and a Commission paper of 2017. It calls not only for the rapid removal of „illegal online content“, but also for its „proactive detection“. „„Crawling, monitoring and gathering“: EU funds search engine for criminal Internet content“ weiterlesen

German authorities lead international working group on defence against small drones

Three years ago, the German Federal Ministry of the Interior was already arming itself against attacks by small drones. These could endanger critical infrastructures or industrial facilities equipped with firearms or explosives. With the USA, Germany is now leading a working group of a worldwide alliance of states. It is also about defending against „violent extremism“.

Together with the US government, Germany has launched an „initiative to defend against unmanned aerial vehicles“. This was reported by the US State Department in a press release. The founding meeting of an appropriate working group was held within the framework of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) in Berlin on 13 December. The group operates under the abbreviation „GCTF C-UAS“. „German authorities lead international working group on defence against small drones“ weiterlesen

EU Data Retention Directive: For a limited time period, but with option to be extended?

As the preventive retention of telecommunication data is illegal throughout the EU, the retention of data from individual countries or regions might be an option. This is discussed by the EU member states, documents from the Council and the German Federal Government reveal. A “renewable arrest warrant” could be created for this purpose.

The EU member states are currently discussing a possible new version of the Data Retention Directive. The Bulgarian Presidency of the Council has proposed the adoption of “renewable retention warrants” in the responsible Council Working Party on Information Exchange and Data Protection. The Estonian Presidency had already touched on this issue in the second half of 2017, albeit offering scant detail at the time. According to the German Federal Ministry of Justice, these “still very preliminary considerations” are also being examined by the German Government. „EU Data Retention Directive: For a limited time period, but with option to be extended?“ weiterlesen

Implementing the „solidarity clause“: EU secret service to be reinforced?

The „solidarity clause“, known more formally as Article 222 of the Lisbon Treaty, regulates the use of police, secret service and military means in case of a crisis within the EU. The EU Commission and the EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy issued a proposal in December for the legal implementation of the clause. [1]

When the clause is implemented, Member States and EU institutions will be bound to assist one another in the case of a disaster („any situation, which has or may have an adverse impact on people, the environment or property,“ according to the Commission’s proposal) or terrorist attack, as defined in the 2002 Council Framework Decision on combating terrorism. The clause determines that engagement in the territory of another state shall only be allowed at the „request of its political authorities“. „Implementing the „solidarity clause“: EU secret service to be reinforced?“ weiterlesen