Far-right terrorism is Germany’s biggest security threat, intelligence agency warns

BfV agency says there are more than 32,000 far-right extremists in Germany

epa08536189 German Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU, R) and Thomas Haldenwang, president of the German federal office for protection of the constitution (Verfassungsschutz, or BfV) attend a news conference in Berlin, Germany, 09 July 2020. The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution presented its annual report for 2019.  EPA/ADAM BERRY / POOL

Far-right terrorism is the biggest security policy challenge to Germany, the country’s domestic intelligence agency has warned in an annual report released on Thursday.

The BfV agency said there were 32,080 right-wing extremists in Germany last year, an increase of nearly 8,000 from 2018.

About 13,000 are believed to be ready to use violence, up 300 from 2018, the report said.

Included in the report are about 7,000 youth members of the Alternative for Germany party and a radical faction known as The Wing.

Both have come under increased surveillance because of extremism fears.

Thomas Haldenwang, who leads the BfV, said there was a "competition" among far-right terrorists to kill as many people as possible in an attack.

"We're talking about breaking a 'high score' of number of victims," Mr Haldenwang said. "We have to break this trend."

There are also concerns about anti-Semitism.

“Racism and anti-Semitism merge to a very considerable degree out of right-wing extremism," said Horst Seehofer, the German Interior Minister.

"Over 90 per cent of anti-Semitic incidents can be traced back to right-wing extremism, and therefore it is not an exaggeration to say this is the biggest security policy concern in our country."

German authorities pledged to intensify measures against far-right extremism after the killing of a regional politician by a neo-Nazi, an attack on a synagogue in Halle and the fatal shooting of nine people in Hanau over the past year.

The number of far-left extremists increased by 1,500 to 33,500 last year, the report said.

More than two-thirds of them are classified as “not violence-orientated”.

The report also counts about 28,020 people in Germany with tendencies towards Islamist extremism, up from 26,560 in 2018.

Mr Seehofer said the danger from such terrorism “is still very high”.

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