After the deadly knife attack on a train between Kiel and Hamburg, deficits in cooperation between authorities are increasingly becoming apparent – especially across national borders. This was made clear by a meeting of the interior and legal committee in the state parliament in Kiel.

Certain information from Hamburg about the alleged perpetrator Ibrahim A. had not arrived in Schleswig-Holstein, said Integration Minister Aminata Touré (Greens). Authorities in both countries would have to ask themselves whether they shouldn’t have checked out a few points.

Recently released from prison

The 33-year-old Palestinian had been released from custody in Hamburg just a few days before the act of violence, which left two dead and five injured. Hamburg’s Justice Senator Anna Gallina (Greens) defended herself against criticism almost at the same time in the Hamburg state parliament. She pointed out that the release was decided by a court. “And there was no way to impose conditions.”

In Kiel, CDU parliamentary group leader Tobias Koch accused the judicial authorities in Hamburg and North Rhine-Westphalia of blatant failure because they had not passed on the necessary information to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees or to the immigration authorities in Kiel. Ibrahim A. spent his first years in Germany in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Hamburg judiciary rejects responsibility

The Hamburg judicial authorities responded by pointing out that the immigration authorities in Kiel had been aware of the man’s detention in Hamburg since the beginning of May 2022 at the latest. After several unsuccessful attempts to make contact by telephone, the JVA wrote to the immigration office in Kiel on May 4, 2022, a spokesman said. Two days later, the Kiel authorities asked for information about how long Ibrahim A. had been in custody and whether he had been in Hamburg for a long time. These questions were answered on the same day and a telephone appointment with Ibrahim A. was suggested at the immigration office. The immigration office in Kiel did not respond to this.

The JVA in Hamburg last telephoned the immigration office in Kiel on November 22, 2022. They said that Ibrahim A. would have to report to the immigration authorities in Kiel after his release from prison. The prisoner was informed of this verbally and his lawyer was informed by fax.

Subsidiary protection still exists

According to the Federal Office for Migration, no decision has yet been made on withdrawing the so-called subsidiary protection status. The reason given by a department head in Kiel was that it was not possible to give Ibrahim A. a legal hearing because he did not have a permanent address. He did not respond to mail sent to a registration office for the homeless.

If the Federal Office for Migration had known about the Hamburg pre-trial detention, it would have been easy to decide, said the department head. The exchange with the Kiel immigration office did not result in any corresponding information either. After his imprisonment, Ibrahim A. can now be heard – it is likely that his protection status will be revoked. Whether this will lead to a deportation is an open question – that would be a matter for the competent immigration authorities. According to the Integration Ministry, there have been no deportations from the north to the Gaza Strip in the past ten years.

Ibrahim A.’s return procedure was initiated in autumn 2021, and the employee said that the Palestinian’s citizenship was unclear. Ibrahim A. described himself as a Palestinian from the Gaza Strip and stateless when he entered the country in 2014. Kiel’s head of public order, Christian Zierau, also stated that there was no information to be delivered from Hamburg. The Palestinian received unemployment benefit II and accommodation costs from July 2nd to November 30th, 2021 at the job center in Kiel.

In the attack on the regional train on January 25, a 17-year-old and a 19-year-old were killed. According to Schleswig-Holstein’s Interior Minister Sabine Sütterlin-Waack (CDU), both were a couple. Five other people were injured, three of them critically. In the meantime, they had to be placed in an artificial coma, their condition is stable again and they are responsive. An arrest warrant was issued against Ibrahim A. for two counts of murder and multiple attempts at manslaughter.

Safety measures in rail traffic

The state government announced safety measures for rail traffic. “This includes video surveillance in trains and stations, appropriate lighting at stations and in areas of fear,” said Sütterlin-Waack. In addition, the installation of a button for a silent alarm in wagons is being examined.

In addition to uniformed police officers, civilian police officers with service weapons should also be allowed to ride the train free of charge if they register with the train staff at the beginning of the journey, said the interior minister. Some outrageous acts could not be prevented by any security measures. “Our goal is to prevent similar attacks as much as possible.”

Schleswig-Holstein’s Minister of Integration Touré said that the authorities had to work together faster and better across states. Foreign serious multiple offenders would have to be expelled immediately. The minister also gave figures: At the end of 2022, 12,397 foreigners were required to leave the north, and 10,730 of them were tolerated. Of the 1,291 planned returns, 389 were implemented, and 41 offenders were deported directly from a prison.