After the terrorist attack in Moscow, the federal government fears that Germany is also threatened with Islamist attacks. Potential destinations range from Cologne Cathedral to the European Football Championship. Now, of all times, the release of the imprisoned German leader of the Islamic State is approaching.

The German security authorities are sounding the alarm. After the Islamist terrorist attack on a Moscow concert hall, the police and federal government fear that Germany will also be targeted by IS terrorist groups from Central Asia. Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser warns unusually directly: „The danger from Islamist terrorism is acute,“ says the Social Democrat. In particular, the Central Asian IS terrorist groups “currently pose the greatest Islamist threat in Germany.”

Since November, Western secret services have been warning that a terrorist army has been formed under the name „ISPK“ (Islamic State Khorasan Province) that is aiming for a radical Islamic caliphate in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. „Khorasan“ is the historical name for the region between the Hindu Kush and the Caspian Sea. The ISPK considers the Taliban to be too moderate and is apparently planning mass murders of Christians that will attract media attention – like now in the Moscow Concert Hall, where 137 people were killed.

The intelligence reports list Cologne Cathedral and St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna as acute attack targets. The Islamists are also targeting the European Football Championship in Germany and the Olympic Games in Paris. Several suspects have already been temporarily detained; A 30-year-old Tajik spied on Cologne Cathedral and was arrested in Wesel on the Lower Rhine. Last July, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office in North Rhine-Westphalia uncovered a suspected Islamist terrorist cell and had seven Tajik suspects arrested. They were also members of the IS offshoot ISPK.

The IS man in Germany

Just a week ago, two ISPK suspects from Afghanistan were arrested in Gera, who are said to have planned an attack on the Swedish parliament. According to the Washington Institute for Near-East Policy, the ISPK planned a total of 21 attacks in nine different countries in 2023. The return of IS terror also alarms the German authorities because there are believed to be several dozen active fighters in Germany. Their ideological leader is forty-year-old Abu Walaa, whose real name is Ahmad Abdulaziz Abdullah A. The Salafist preacher comes from Kirkuk/Iraq, entered Germany in 2001 and applied for asylum. He failed professionally as a small retailer of jeans and soft drinks. Instead, he increasingly shifted his focus to radical hate sermons and the establishment of a terrorist organization around the mosque in Hildesheim.

Abu Walaa’s followers number in the tens of thousands; Anis Amri, who carried out the attack on the Berlin Christmas market at the Memorial Church in 2016, was also part of Abu Walaa’s network. In November 2016, the police arrested him in Bad Salzdetfurth with four accomplices in Hildesheim and North Rhine-Westphalia. After the arrest, North Rhine-Westphalia Interior Minister Ralf Jäger said: „We have succeeded in striking a serious blow against the chief ideologists of the Salafist scene in Germany.“ In February 2021, he was found guilty of supporting and membership in a terrorist organization and sentenced to ten and a half years in prison.

Abu Walaa is supposed to leave Germany

Today Abu Walaa sits behind bars in the Willich correctional facility. He is still considered the ideological leading figure of the IS terrorist organization. After six years in custody, he has been serving his sentence for two years, so he has already spent 8 years in prison. There is talk that he will soon be released and released from prison into everyday life in Germany. The security authorities fear that Abu Walaa could immediately become active again for IS terror. The Viersen district therefore applied for an expulsion order to Iraq in September, as the “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung” reported. But Walaa resists this.

At the end of January, the Düsseldorf administrative court confirmed receipt of a lawsuit against the expulsion decision. Although Walaa is considered one of the most dangerous Islamists in Germany, the chances of his deportation are rather slim. There are currently around 26,000 Iraqis living in this country who are obliged to leave the country. However, in the entire year of 2022, only 77 people were deported directly to Iraq. In 2023 it was a low three-digit number. The “large-scale deportations” announced by Chancellor Olaf Scholz have not yet occurred, and the returns in Iraq are proving difficult.

In the case of Abu Wallas, the government in Baghdad probably has no interest in taking back the top IS cadre. Another argument against his expulsion is that he has seven children from two women. He has four children with his main wife and three children with his second wife – all live in Germany.