Terrorism in Germany

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GSG9 team returning in 1977 after liberating the passengers of Lufthansa Flight 181

Germany has experienced significant terrorism in its history, particularly during the Weimar Republic and during the Cold War, carried out by far-left and far-right German groups as well as by foreign terrorist organisations.

In recent years, far-left, far-right and Islamist extremist violence have resurged, and groups have been suspected of terrorism or terrorist plans.

Weimar Republic[edit]

Germany's loss in the First World War resulted in a chaotic situation, with multiple far-left and far-right organisations attempting to seize power. Both the far left and the far right organised their own militias, and carried out assassinations. For example, the Foreign Minister Walther Rathenau was assassinated in 1922 by a far-right group. Members of the Communist Party of Germany assassinated police captains Paul Anlauf and Franz Lenck in Berlin in 1931.

Terrorism in Germany[edit]

Aftermath of the 2016 Berlin truck attack

Turkish and Kurdish Islamist groups are also active in Germany, and Turkish and Kurdish Islamists have co-operated in Germany as in the case of the Sauerland terror cell.[3] Political scientist Guido Steinberg stated that many top leaders of Islamist organizations in Turkey fled to Germany in the 2000s, and that the Turkish (Kurdish) Hezbollah has also "left an imprint on Turkish Kurds in Germany."[3] Also many Kurds from Iraq (there are about 50,000 to 80,000 Iraqi Kurds in Germany) financially supported Kurdish-Islamist groups like Ansar al-Islam.[3] Many Islamists in Germany are ethnic Kurds (Iraqi and Turkish Kurds) or Turks. Before 2006, the German Islamist scene was dominated by Iraqi Kurds and Palestinians, but since 2006 Kurds from Turkey and Turks are dominant.[3]

According to a research conducted by the Abba Eban Institute as part of an initiative called Janus Initiative, Shiite clans in Germany are involved in organized crime and are specifically supporting Hezbollah.[4]

Since 2010, 15 people have died in Islamic terrorist attacks in Germany and an additional 74 have been injured. There is also a number of violent incidents which are disputed to either have been conducted by Lone-wolf Islamic terrorists or by mentally ill people.

In 2015, 11 verdicts concerning jihadist terrorism related offences were issued by German courts.[5] In 2016, 28 verdicts for jihadist terrorism related offences were delivered.[6] In 2017 there were 27 verdicts.[7]

Almost all known terrorist networks and individuals in Germany have links to Salafism,[8] an ultra-conservative Islamic ideology.[9]

Terrorism in (or involving) West Germany and reunified Germany[edit]

During the Cold War, especially in the 1970s, West Germany experienced severe terrorism, mostly perpetrated by far-left terrorist groups and culminating in the German Autumn of 1977, the country's most serious national crisis in postwar history. Terrorist incidents also took place in the 1980s and 1990s. Some of the terrorist groups had connections to international terrorism, notably Palestinian militant groups, and were aided and abetted by the communist regime of East Germany.

Known terrorist groups in Germany (both active and in-active)
Right Wing Extremists Anarchists and Left Wing Extremists Islamists and Salafists Separatists and foreign Nationalists
Atomwaffen Division since 2018 Red Army Faction 1970–1998 Al-Qaeda since 2006 Provisional Irish Republican Army
Freikorps Havelland 2003–2005 Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant since 2015 Black September
Gruppe Freital 2015–2018 Revolutionary Cells 1973–1993 Ansar al-Islam Grey Wolves (organization) since 1968
National Socialist Underground 1999–2011 Anti-Imperialist Cell 1992 – 1995
Deutsche Aktionsgruppen 1980 Movement 2 June 1972–1980
Wehrsportsgruppe Hoffman 1973–1980 Tupamaros West-Berlin (and Munchen) 1969-1970
Combat 18 since 1992 Revolutionäre Aktionszellen (RAZ) 2009–2011[10]
Action Front of National Socialists/National Activists 1977–1983 Rote Zora 1974–1995
Revolution Chemnitz 2018–2019[11] Militante gruppe 2001–2009
Nationale Bewegung 2000-2001 Klasse gegen Klasse 1992–2003
Hepp-Kexel-Group 1982 Feministische Autonome Zelle (FAZ) since 2019

List of significant terrorist incidents in Germany[edit]

Date Sub Location Deaths Injuries Type Perpetrator or motives Description
2 April 1968 Hesse Frankfurt 0 0 Arson Red Army Faction -- Shopping Mall
Two founding fathers of the RAF, Andreas Baader and Gudrun Ensslin, set fire to a shopping mall in Frankfurt as a political statement against capitalism.[12]
11 April 1968 Berlin Berlin 0 1 Small arms fire Josef Bachmann -- Rudi Dutschke, prominent figure of the left-wing students movement
23 year old worker Josef Bachmann tried to assassinate the prominent left-wing figure Rudi Dutschke by firing multiple shots at him. The victim was seriously wounded and scarred for life.[13]
10 February 1970 Bavaria Munich 1 23 Grenade attack and Small arms fire PDFLP (Palestinian nationalists) -- Airports & airlines
Three terrorists attacked El Al passengers in a bus at the Munich-Riem Airport with guns and grenades; one passenger was killed and 23 injured.[14] All three terrorists were captured by airport police. The Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Action Organization for the Liberation of Palestine claim responsibility for the attack.[15]
13 February 1970 Bavaria Munich 7 10 Arson Anarchist group (suspected) -- Cultural institutions
A Jewish cultural center was burned to the ground in Munich. Arab nationalist and German far-right organisations were initially suspected. Further evidence surfaced in 2012 involving a local anarchist group.[16][17]
2 February 1972 Berlin Berlin 1 0 Bomb attack 2 June Movement -- British Military Vehicles and a British yacht-club (British Armed Forces)
As a reaction to the Bloody Sunday, an event during The Troubles, the 2nd June Movement bombed two vehicles of the British Armed Forces as well as a British yacht-club.
11 May 1972 Hesse Frankfurt 1 13 Bomb attack Red Army Faction -- Government institutions (Foreign: United States Army)
A bomb exploded at the Headquarters, V Corps (US Army) in the Abrams Building (IG Farben Building) in Frankfurt, killing US Army officer Paul A. Bloomquist and injuring a further 13.[18][19]
24 May 1972 Baden-Württemberg Heidelberg 3 5 Car bombing Red Army Faction -- Government institutions (Foreign: United States Army)
Two large car bombs were detonated at the US Army Supreme European Command within the Campbell Barracks in Heidelberg, killing three. The dead were identified as Ronald A. Woodward, Charles L. Peck and Captain Clyde R. Bonner[18][19][20][21]
5 September 1972 Bavaria Munich 17
(5 perps.)
0 Hostage taking

(2 days)

Black September (Palestinian nationalists) -- Olympic Games
Eight armed terrorists staged an attack during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, West Germany on 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team, who were taken hostage and eventually killed, along with a German police officer. Five of the attackers also died in the raid to free the hostages.[22][23][24][25]
7 April 1977 Baden-Württemberg Karlsruhe 3 0 Small arms fire Red Army Faction -- Government institutions
Shortly after 9:00 CET, a motorcycle pulled up next to the car of Germany's chief federal prosecutor, Siegfried Buback, a stoplight on the outskirts of Karlsruhe in western Germany. The motorcycle passenger proceeded to fire at least 15 bullets into the car. Buback and his 30-year-old driver Wolfgang Göbel died at the scene; the head of the chauffeur service Georg Wurster, 33, succumbed to his injuries six days later.[26]
30 July 1977 Hesse Oberursel 1 0 Small arms fire Red Army Faction -- Business
Jürgen Ponto, the head of Dresdner Bank, is shot and killed in his house in Oberursel. It is thought that three assailants attempted to kidnap Ponto, and after he resisted they shot him. He was shot five times and later died of his serious wounds. Susanne Albrecht, the daughter of a good friend of the Pontos, was later identified as one of the attackers.[27]
5 September 1977 North Rhine-Westphalia Cologne 5 0 Small arms fire Red Army Faction -- Business
A group of armed terrorists attacked the car carrying Hanns Martin Schleyer, then president of the German employers' association, in Cologne. Four masked RAF members sprayed bullets into the two vehicles, killing Marcisz and a police officer, Roland Pieler. The driver of the police escort vehicle, Reinhold Brändle, and a third police officer, Helmut Ulmer, were also killed.
Schleyer was abducted and held prisoner in an apartment in a residential neighborhood near Cologne. He was forced to appeal to the West German government under Helmut Schmidt for several RAF members -- then imprisoned -- to be exchanged for him. On 18 October 1977, three of the imprisoned RAF members were found dead in their cells. In response, Schleyer was shot dead en route to Mulhouse, France, where his body was left in an Audi 100.[28]
22 August 1980 Hamburg Hamburg 2 0 Arson Deutsche Aktionsgruppen Right-wing terrorism -- Private citizens (Refugees) & property
An Arson attack perpetrated by the Right-Wing terrorist group Deutsche Aktionsgruppen targeted a refugee home for Vietnamese.[29]
27 September 1980 Bavaria Munich 12
(one perp.)
213 Suicide bombing Right-Wing Terrorism (perpetrator: Gundolf Köhler) -- Private citizens & property
A bomb detonates at the Oktoberfest fairgrounds in Theresienwiese, Munich, killing twelve and injuring over two hundred more. The dead include the alleged bomber Gundolf Kohler, a member of the neo-Nazi Military Sport Group Hoffman.[30][31]
11 May 1982 Hesse Seckbach (Frankfurt am Main) 1 0 Assassination Revolutionary Cells (German group) -- German Politician Heinz-Herbert Karry
German Politician and Ministry of the economy of Hesse was murdered in his house by the Revolutionary Cells for supporting further construction of Frankfurt's Airport as well as further construction of the nuclear power plant Biblis.[32][33]
15 January 1982 Berlin Berlin 1 46 Bomb attack Palestinian Nationalists -- Private citizens & property
An explosion at the Mifgash-Israel, a Jewish owned restaurant in West Berlin, injures 46 people. An infant girl, who was in critical condition after the blast, later dies of her injuries.[34][35]
25 August 1983 Berlin Berlin 2 23 Bomb attack ASALA (Armenian nationalists) and Carlos the Jackal -- Diplomatic (French)
A bomb detonates on the fifth floor of the six-story French consulate building in West Berlin, causing extensive damage on the floor below, in which the consulate offices and a visitor's lounge were situated. The 11:20am explosion collapsed sections of the front facade and attic and catapulted parts of interior walls to the street below, although all dead and injured had all been inside the building.[36]
1 February 1985 Bavaria Munich 1 0 Small arms fire Red Army Faction -- Business
Head of the Federal Union of German Aerospace and Heavy Industries (BDLI), Ernst Zimmermann, is shot once in the head by a man with a sub-machine gun. The assailant forced his way into the industrialist's home in suburban Munich after his wife opened the door for a woman allegedly claiming to have a letter for Mr. Zimmermann.[37]
19 June 1985 Hesse Frankfurt 3 74 Bombing Abu Nidal Organization -- Airports & airlines
A powerful bomb rips through an international departure lounge of the Frankfurt Airport, killing three people and wounding 42. The dead include a man and two children, and of the many injured, 18 were hospitalized. The explosive device, which the police said appeared to have been placed among seated passengers waiting for their flights, blasted a large hole in the cement floor of the airport terminal, then one of the busiest in Europe.[38][39] German investigators concluded the perpetrator to be the Abu Nidal Organization.[40]
8 August 1985 Hesse Rhein-Main Air Base 2 20 Car bombing Red Army Faction & Action Directe -- Government institutions (Foreign: United States Army)
A car bomb explodes outside the headquarters building at the Rhein-Main Air Base, where members of the United States Armed Forces are stationed, killing two Americans and wounding about 20 people.
The dead were Airman Frank H. Scarton, 19, who was serving with the 437th Military Airlift Wing, and Becky Jo Bristol, the wife of Senior Airman John Bristol, who was with the Medical Airlift Squadron at the base.[18][41]
4 April 1986 Berlin Berlin 3 231 Bombing Libyan agents -- Private Citizens & Property
A bomb placed on the dance-floor of the La Belle Discotheque, popular with United States military personnel, explodes, killing 3 and injuring hundreds more. Two of the dead were members of the United States military.[42]
9 July 1986 Bavaria Munich 2 0 Bombing Red Army Faction -- Business
The physicist Karl-Heinz Beckurts, director of research and technology at the Siemens electronic company, and a driver are killed by a remote controlled bomb planted in his car in a Munich suburb.[43][44]
23 March 1987 North Rhine-Westphalia Rheindahlen 0 31 Car bombing Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) -- British military base
19 June 1989 Lower Saxony Osnabrück Bomb attack Provisional Irish Republican Army -- Government institutions (Foreign: British Army)
An IRA cell around Donna Maguire planted five explosive devices at the Quebec Barracks in Osnabrück. Of the five devices, only one exploded causing damage to a building. No casualties.[45][46][47]
30 November 1989 Hesse Bad Homburg vor der Höhe 1 1 Bombing Red Army Faction -- Business
Banker Alfred Herrhausen dies instantly and his driver is seriously wounded in a blast caused by a remote controlled bomb under his vehicle. Mr. Herrhausen, who headed Deutsche Bank A.G., was described as the most powerful person in the West German economy and a dominant figure in European banking.[48]
13 February 1991 North Rhine-Westphalia Bonn 0 0 Sniper attack Red Army Faction -- Government institutions (Foreign: United States)
RAF members fire sniper bullets at the American embassy.
16 June 1991 Baden-Württemberg Friedrichshafen 1 0 Stabbing Neo Nazi -- Angolan migrant
A neonazi stabbed the 36 years old, Angolan man Agostinho C. to death out of racial hatred. He was called the hero of Friedrichshafen by neo nazis after the incident.[49]
24 August 1992 Rhineland-Palatinate Koblenz 1 7 Shooting Neo-Nazi Andy Johann H. --Civilians
Andy Johann H. shot an entire magazine of a semi-automatic weapon into a crowd of homeless people and punks at the central plazza in Koblenz. He was charged with 1 count of murder and seven counts of attempted murder.[49]
23 November 1992 Schleswig-Holstein Mölln 3 0 Firebombing Neo-Nazis -- Private Citizens & Property
A molotov cocktail is thrown into the house of a Turkish migrant family, destroying the property and killing three occupants. Two known neo-Nazis were convicted of murder a year later.[50][51]
29 May 1993 North Rhine-Westphalia Solingen 5 14 Firebombing Far-Right -- Private Citizens & Property
Four young German men (aged between 16 and 23) belonging to the far right skinhead scene, the oldest with known neo-Nazi ties, set fire to the house of a large Turkish family in Solingen in North Rhine-Westphalia. Three girls and two women died; fourteen other family members, including several children, were injured, some of them severely.[52][53]
17 November 1993 North Rhine-Westphalia Cologne Small arms fire Anti-Imperialist Cell -- Property
Multiple shots were fired at the employers Association Gesammtmetall.[54]
27 October 1994 Brandenburg Bad Freienwalde Arson Das K.O.M.I.T.E.E. -- Bundeswehr Building & Property
A Bundeswehr building of the Verteidigungskreiskommandos 852 was completely destroyed.[55]
28 June 1996 Lower Saxony Osnabrück Mortar attack Provisional Irish Republican Army -- Government institutions (Foreign: British Army)
23 October 1996 Saxony Leipzig 1 Stabbing Neo-Nazis --Syrian migrant
After verbally attacking and threatening multiple people with a knife, two Neo-Nazis stabbed to death a Syrian refugee.[49]
23 February 1997 Schleswig-Holstein Roseburg 1 1 Shooting Kay D. Neo-Nazi --Police officers
Kay Diesner, a prominent figure in Berlin's Neo-Nazi scnene, opened fire at two policemen at a highway pull-in in Rosenburg. In the attack, one policemen was killed, the other wounded.[49]
9 June 2004 North Rhine-Westphalia Cologne 0 22 Pipe bombing National Socialist Underground -- Private Citizens & Property
9 September 2000 to 25 April 2007 Baden-Württemberg Heilbronn







10 1 Serial Killing, Small arms fire National Socialist Underground -- Government institutions, Private Citizens & Property
26 February 2009 Saxony-Anhalt Burg bei Magdeburg Arson Militante gruppe left-wing extremists --Bundeswehr vehicle
The left-wing extremist group militante gruppe (mg) firebombed a Bundeswehr vehicle. The arson attack was officially their last attack out of at least 25.[56]
11 November 2009 Hesse Frankfurt Arson Bewegung Morgenlicht Solitary activist pretending to be a movement attacked a bank with fire bomb[57]
30 December 2009 Berlin Berlin Bomb attack Revolutionäre Aktionszellen (RAZ) left-wing terrorists --Employmeent agency
The left-wing extremist group Revolutionäre Aktionszellen (RAZ) bombed an employment agency building in Berlin.[58]
4 February 2010 Berlin Berlin Bomb attack Revolutionäre Aktionszellen (RAZ) left-wing terrorists --House of economy
The left-wing extremist group Revolutionäre Aktionszellen (RAZ) bombed the house of economy in Berlin.[58]
19 November 2010 Berlin Berlin Firebombing Revolutionäre Aktionszellen (RAZ) left-wing terrorists --German Federal Administrative Office Berlin
The left-wing extremist group Revolutionäre Aktionszellen (RAZ) firebombed the German Federal Administrative Office Berlin.[59]
2 March 2011 Hesse Frankfurt 2 2 Small arms fire Arid Uka -- Government institutions (Foreign: United States Army)
An immigrant from Kosovo fires upon a United States Air Force bus, killing two and wounding two. At the time of the attack, the vehicle was parked outside the terminal building waiting to transport 15 U.S. airmen to Ramstein Air Base. The attacker first shoots an airman outside the vehicle, and then enters the bus, shooting and killing the driver and firing three shots at two other airmen, wounding them.[60] Perpetrator had done it to avenge U.S. military operations in Afghanistan[61]
3 December 2011 Lower Saxony Göttingen Firebombing Revolutionäre Aktionszellen (RAZ) left-wing terrorists --County Court
The left-wing extremist group Revolutionäre Aktionszellen (RAZ) bombed the Courthouse in Göttingen.The bombing was their fifth attack.[62]
17 September 2015 North Rhine-Westphalia Cologne 0 5 Stabbing Right-wing extremist Frank S. -- Henriette Reker (Politician)
44 year old Frank S. seriously injured Henriette Reker with a knife in an assassination attempt. He then injured 4 additional people who tried to disarm him.[63]
17 October 2015 Berlin Berlin 1
(one perp.)
1 Stabbing Rafik Mohamad Yousef -- Ayad Allawi (Politician)

Plotted to assassinate the Prime Minister of Iraq during his visit to Germany .[64]

1 November 2015 Saxony Freital 1 Bomb attack Gruppe Freital (Right-wing extremists) -- Refugee accommodation
Members of the right-wing terrorist group Gruppe Freital detonate an illegal explosive in front of a window of a refugee housing. One refugee gets injured in the face.[65][66]
5 February 2016 Lower Saxony Hanover Arson Saleh S. (Islamist) -- Civilians
The at the time of the attack 17-year old Saleh S. threw two Molotov Cocktails at the entrance of a shopping-mall in Hanover. He was later charged with 7 counts of attempted murder after admitting that he wanted to kill as many people as possible. Just 3 weeks later his sister Safia S. attacked a Police officer with a knife.[67][68]
26 February 2016 Lower Saxony Hanover 0 1 Stabbing Safia S. (Islamist) -- Government institutions (Police)
A policeman was severely injured by a 15-year old girl, Safia S., who was acting "on behalf of the Islamic State"[69][70]
16 April 2016 North Rhine-Westphalia Essen 3 Bomb attack Yussuf T. and Mohammed B. Islamic Terrorism -- Sikh temple
Around 7 pm, the two radicalized youths threw an improvised explosive device onto the grounds of a Sikh-temple in Essen. Three people were injured by the bombing.[71]
19 July 2016 Bavaria Würzburg 1
(one perp.)
5 Axe attack Riaz Khan Ahmadzai (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) -- Private Citizens & Property
22 July 2016 Bavaria Munich 10
(one perp.)
36 Shooting David Sonboly (Right-wing terrorism) -- Private Citizens & Property
24 July 2016 Bavaria Ansbach 1
(one perp.)
12 Suicide bombing Mohammad Daleel (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) -- Private Citizens & Property
26 September 2016 Saxony Dresden Pipe bombing Nino K. Right-wing terrorism -- Mosque & International Congress Center Dresden
In the late evening of 26 September 2016, Nino K. set up two bombs in Dresden, one targeting a Mosque and the other targeting the International Congress Center Dresden. He pledged guilty in February 2018.[72]
19 December 2016 Berlin Berlin 13 55 Truck attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant -- Private Citizens & Property
28 July 2017 Hamburg Hamburg 1 6 Stabbing Ahmad Alhaw (Islamic State) -- Private Citizens
March 2018 Baden-Württemberg Schleswig-Holstein Berlin North Rhine-Westphalia Multiple cities Multiple arson Kurdish extremists and left-wing extremists --Turkish Mosques, stores and cultural centers
As part of a wave of attacks and acts of violence against Turks and Turkish organizations as a response to the Turkish-kurdish conflict, Kurdish and left-wing extremists committed numerous arson attacks and non-violent operations in all of Germany.[73][74][75][76]
26 March 2018 Berlin Berlin Arson Left-wing extremist group Vulkangruppe NetzHerrschaft zerreißen --Power supply system
After an arson attack on part of Berlins power supply system, roughly 6.500 households were left without electricity for numerous hours. A left-wing extremist group, calling itself Vulkangruppe NetzHerrschaft zerreißen claimed responsibility for the attack.[77]
24 December 2018 North Rhine-Westphalia Hambach Forest Arson Green anarchist group Hambi Chaos Crew --Pumping station
3 January 2019 Saxony Döbeln Bomb attack Left-wing extremists --Alternative for Germany office
After a bomb attack on the AfD office in Döbeln, three men were arrested and convicted.[78]
31 May 2019 Bremen Bremen 1 Stabbing Right-wing extremists --Muslim civilian
A Muslim teenager was insulted islamophobically in a tram and stabbed with a knife in the neck.[79]
2 June 2019 Hesse Wolfhagen 1 Assassination Right-wing extremist --Walter Lübcke
Walter Lübcke, President of the district Kassel and member of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) was shot dead outside his home in Wolfhagen. A political, right-wing motive has been confessed by the murderer Stephan Ernst who is a member of the terrorist group Combat 18 (C18) and the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD).[80]
22 July 2019 Hesse Wächtersbach 1
(one perp.)
1 Murder-suicide/Drive-by-shooting Right-wing extremist --Random African citizen
On Monday, the 22nd of July, the unnamed perpetrator set off to randomly kill a person, the only requirement he had for his target was dark skin. After seriously wounding a man from Eritrea in a drive-by-shooting, the perpetrator went to a bar, where he boasted about his crime. Later on, the perpetrator killed himself.[81]
23 July 2019 Saxony Zittau Bombing Suspected right-wing extremists --Home of a left-wing politician
A powerful explosion destroyed multiple windows of the home of the targeted left-wing politician. Right-wing extremists, possibly Combat 18, are the susptected perpetrators.[82]
27 September 2019 Berlin Berlin Arson Left-wing extremists --Court building
A left-wing group has claimed responsibility for an arson attack on the Pankow court in Berlin. The arson attack was part of the left-wing campaign Tu Mal Wat days.[83]
9 October 2019 Saxony-Anhalt Halle (Saale) 2 2 Attempted mass shooting Right-wing extremist --Synagogue and Turkish restaurant
A man who was armed with multiple firearms and home-made bombs unsuccessfully attempted to force his way into a synagogue during Yom Kippur prayers, shooting and killing one passer-by. He subsequently fired into a nearby kebab restaurant, killing one customer. Pursued by police, he shot and wounded another man in an attempted carjacking, before being captured. Video and text material which the suspect posted online expressed his extremist anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, and anti-feminist views as well as his admiration for perpetrators of earlier acts of right-wing terrorism.[84]
19 February 2020 Hesse Hanau 11
(one perp.)
5 Mass shootings Right-wing extremist --Hookah bars
On 19 February 2020, two mass shootings occurred, targeting two shisha bars/hookah lounges in Hanau, Hesse, Germany. Eleven people, including the perpetrator, were killed and five others injured in the shootings, sparking a police manhunt. The gunman, identified as Tobias Rathjen, was eventually found dead in his apartment alongside his mother, who had also been killed.[85]
18 August 2020 Berlin Berlin 6 Vehicle-ramming attack Islamist --Motorists
On 18 August 2020, a 30-year-old Iraqi man rammed his car into other motorists on the Bundesautobahn 100 in Berlin injuring six people. The man expressed support for Islamic extremist views.[86]
4 October 2020 Saxony Dresden 1 1 Stabbing Islamist --Civilians
On 4 October 2020, a 20-year-old Syrian asylum seeker stabbed two tourists at random killing one and injuring another in Dresden. The man was known by authorities to be an Islamist extremist.[87]
26 May 2021 Berlin Berlin Arson Left-wing extremist group Vulkangruppe NetzHerrschaft zerreißen --Power cables to factory
Tesla Gigafactory Berlin was attacked by saboteurs who set cables supplying electricity to the construction site on fire.[88]
18 September 2021 Rhineland-Palatinate Idar-Oberstein 1 Shooting Opponent of Covid restrictions --Civilian
After a dispute between a cashier and a customer about mandatory mask wearing at a petrol station, the 49-year old customer returned an hour later and killed the 20 year old cashier with a gunshot to the head. The perpetrator stated that the murder was motivated by his opposition to restrictions in place to contain the [Covid-19 pandemic] in Germany.[89]

Islamic terrorism[edit]

In the 2015–2020 time span, there were 9 Islamic terrorist attacks and thwarted terrorist plots where at least one of the perpetrators had entered Germany as an asylum seeker during the European migrant crisis. The Islamic terrorists entered Germany either without identity documents or with falsified documents. The number of discovered plots began to decline in 2017. In 2020 German authorities noted that the majority of the asylum seekers entered Germany without identification papers during the crisis and security agencies considered unregulated immigration as problematic from a security aspect.[90]

Thwarted islamist terror attacks[edit]

In December 2019, German authorities reported to have thwarted ten Islamic terrorist plots since the 2016 Berlin truck attack.[91][92] Among these:

List of international terrorist incidents (outside Germany) with significant German casualties[edit]

Response to terrorism[edit]

The terrorism of the 1970s has formed Germany's political culture and its policy of not negotiating with terrorists. It also led to the formation of the GSG9 counter-terrorism unit. In 1972, a law was passed, the Extremist Act (Radikalenerlass), which banned radicals or those with a 'questionable' political persuasion from public sector jobs.

In 2019 the Federal Criminal Police Office created a department dedicated towards Islamic terrorism and extremism.[95]

Traditionally counter-terrorist organisations in Germany have been slower to respond to extreme right-wing groups than extreme left-wing ones. It has been suggested that this is due to the extreme right being seen as corrigible (fighting for attainable, tangible goals that can be negotiated) while the extreme left are regarded as incorrigible (fighting for ideological goals that are "pure" and cannot be negotiated). Thus because the extreme left are seen as targeting the heart of the German political system while the extreme right is not, this tends to result in a reduced response to extreme right-wing terrorism. In addition, far-right terrorism was at times dubiously regarded as a form of terrorism by the security services, as it did not seem to have self-explanatory political statements nor were any official announcements made by far-right groups explaining the act; for example, a house burning of Turkish immigrants was initially blamed on organised crime and was only later determined to have been perpetrated by extreme right-wing groups, leading officials to doubt it was a form of terrorism as it did not seem to have any broader political goals beyond the killing itself.[96]

In popular culture[edit]

Berlin citizens attending the funeral of assassinated police captains Paul Anlauf and Franz Lenck in 1931

A number of books and films address this topic.


See also[edit]


  • German Jihad: On the Internationalisation of Islamist Terrorism by Guido Steinberg. Columbia University Press, 2013
  1. ^ National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. (2016). Global Terrorism Database (globalterrorismdb_0616dist.xlsx). Retrieved from https://www.start.umd.edu/gtd University of Maryland
  2. ^ National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. (2016). Global Terrorism Database (gtd1993_0616dist.xlsx). Retrieved from https://www.start.umd.edu/gtd University of Maryland
  3. ^ a b c d Guido Steinberg, German Jihad: On the Internationalisation of Islamist Terrorism, Columbia University Press, 2013
  4. ^ "Home - Janus Initiative". janus-initiative.com. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  5. ^ "EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report (TE-SAT) 2016". EU Terrorism Situation & Trend Report (Te-Sat). Europol: 47. 2016. ISBN 978-92-95200-68-5.
  6. ^ "EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report (TE-SAT) 2017". EU Terrorism Situation & Trend Report (Te-Sat). Europol: 52. 2017. ISBN 978-92-95200-79-1.
  7. ^ European Union Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2018 (TE SAT 2018) (PDF). Europol. 2018. p. 58. ISBN 978-92-95200-91-3. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 June 2018. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  8. ^ "Salafistische Bestrebungen". Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (in German). 15 January 2018. Archived from the original on 15 January 2018. Retrieved 13 January 2019. Die Mehrzahl der Salafisten in Deutschland sind keine Terroristen, sondern politische Salafisten. Andererseits sind fast alle in Deutschland bisher identifizierten terroristischen Netzwerkstrukturen und Einzelpersonen salafistisch geprägt bzw. haben sich im salafistischen Milieu entwickelt. [The majority of Salafists in Germany are not terrorists, but political Salafists. On the other hand, almost all hitherto identified terrorist networks and individuals in Germany are influenced by Salafism, for instance having developed in a Salafist environment.]
  9. ^ "Gewaltbereite Islamisten: Erstmals mehr als 10.000 Salafisten in Deutschland". FOCUS Online (in German). Retrieved 13 January 2019.
  10. ^ "Verfassungsschutzbericht 2013" (PDF) (in German). Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 October 2015. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  11. ^ "Zwei mutmaßliche Rechtsterroristen in U-Haft" (in German). FAZ. 1 October 2018. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  12. ^ Nettelbeck, Uwe (23 February 2006). "Die Frankfurter Brandstifter". Zeit Online (in German). Retrieved 14 March 2018.
  13. ^ "Zeitleiste Rechtsterrorismus". bpb. 27 August 2013. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  14. ^ "West German Government Condemns Arab Terrorist Attack on El Al Airline". JTA. 12 February 1970.
  15. ^ "Significant Terrorist Incidents, 1961-2003: A Brief Chronology". Office of the Historian: Bureau of Public Affairs. United States Department of State. Retrieved 8 February 2014.
  16. ^ Times, David Binder Special to The New York (15 February 1970). "Police Cite Arson in Munich Deaths". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
  17. ^ "50 Years After Deadly Arson Attack on Jewish Elderly Home in Munich, Local Activist Seeks Justice". Algemeiner.com. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
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Further reading[edit]