There is a high level of vigilance in France. What is particularly visible is the massive police presence. After the attack near Moscow on Friday that left almost 140 dead, the government in Paris declared the highest terror alert level of three – the security authorities assume that an attack by terrorists could be imminent.

For Germany, Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser also told the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”: “The danger from Islamist terrorism remains acute.” The SPD politician described the terrorist group “Islamic State Khorosan Province” (ISPK), which is said to be responsible for the attack on the concert hall in Russia, as the “biggest Islamist threat” in Germany. Nevertheless, she sees the security authorities in a good position. “Our security authorities are very vigilant and have been keeping an eye on the terrorist group for a long time.”

The head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution also recently pointed out the growing threat posed by the ISPK. “The strengthening of this group in Afghanistan increases the threat situation in Germany,” warned Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution Haldenwang last April. For good reasons, as became clear last July.

At that time, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office arrested seven men, Kyrgyz, Tajik and Turkmen, who had entered Germany as refugees after the Russian attack on Ukraine. Everyone was in contact with the ISPK. The ISPK is also blamed for the foiled plans to attack Cologne Cathedral and St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, which became known last December. And just a few days ago two Afghans were arrested in Gera. One is said to have joined the ISPK as a member from Germany last summer and prepared an attack in Sweden.

What follows from this? Is Germany also raising its terror alert level? There is no comparable public warning instrument in Germany; instead, the authorities continue to speak of a “persistently high terrorist threat.” In the background, however, the security measures are adjusted depending on the current threat situation – partly visible, partly hidden. The former includes the increased presence of sometimes heavily armed security forces at airports and train stations. Less noticeable are measures such as addressing known, so-called relevant people or threats. However, due to the high three-digit number, the security authorities are unable to fully monitor these people who are classified as potentially dangerous.

One thing is clear: Both Germany and France will be in the focus of global public opinion this year and therefore also of international terrorism. The European football champions will be played in ten German cities from June 14th to July 14th, and the Summer Olympics will take place in the French capital from July 26th to August 11th. “Regardless of the terrible terrorist attack in Moscow, increased security measures have long been in place for major events in Germany, especially to protect against Islamist threats,” said a spokesman for Faeser on Friday. He assured: “The federal and state security authorities are well prepared and well equipped.”

Given the threat situation, the government has to practice a balancing act: on the one hand, regularly pointing out the dangers, but on the other hand, not spreading panic. “I think the federal government is currently managing this quite well,” said terrorism researcher Peter Neumann from King’s College in London on Deutschlandfunk.

He also sees that Islamist terror is making a comeback in Europe after a phase of relative calm. Neumann is observing a “mobilization of Islamists and jihadists everywhere in Western Europe.” Since Hamas’ attack on Israel last October, there have already been eight attempted jihadist-motivated attacks in Europe, Neumann said on Deutschlandfunk, including the one in Cologne. According to Europol, there were only six in the entire year of 2022. According to Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution Haldenwang, the successes in the fight against Islamist terror are due to the hard work and attention of the security authorities.

According to terrorism researcher Neumann, there is currently a kind of change in strategy among the radical Islamists – the security authorities have to react to it. In recent years, it has mainly been individual perpetrators who have been charged with jihadist propaganda on the Internet and then taken action. With the ISPK an organized danger is added again. It is a “quite professional group”, “very ambitious and aggressive” that is also able to organize networks. She provided deadly proof of this in the Crocus concert hall near Moscow.

Sources: “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, Deutschlandfunk, Parliamentary Control Committee of the Bundestag, news agencies DPA and AFP