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26 Jul, 2016 18:15

Germany mulls internal army use as top officials claim ‘Islamist terror has arrived’

Officials in Germany are considering deploying the army inside the country in the wake of multiple attacks, while the governor of Bavaria says Islamic terror has already “arrived.”

“Each attack, each act of terrorism, is one too many. Islamist terrorism has arrived in Germany,” Horst Seehofer, the governor of the German state of Bavaria, told reporters on Tuesday. The official gave a joint news conference with Bavaria’s interior minister, Joachim Hermann, following a summit of the local government, where security issues dominated the agenda.

Last week, the country’s southern regions, including Bavaria, were shaken by four assaults, three of which were perpetrated by migrants. Officials in Germany are investigating two of the incidents as potentially linked to or inspired by Islamist extremism.

Earlier, following the violence, Bavaria’s justice minister, Winfried Bausback, had also claimed that Islamist terror has “arrived in Germany,” stressing that the country should “take that into account.”

During Tuesday’s press conference, Seehofer said Germany is facing “a new dimension of terror,” while Bavaria’s interior minister announced that the state’s police ranks would be increased. Hermann also suggested that Germany’s army (Bundeswehr) could be used to aid police in dealing with major terror threats. The debate over whether to deploy the Bundeswehr domestically should not wait “until the next attack happens,” he stressed, as quoted by General-Anzeiger. Lawmakers in Berlin are also discussing the possibility of establishing “troops of reservists” to aid police during internal crisis situations, German media outlet Bild reported, citing its own sources.

In July, Germany approved its new military roadmap, the White Paper, which allows for the use of the German army inside the country in cases of large-scale terror attacks.

Officials in Germany are now also pushing for greater controls and screenings for asylum seekers. “We need to know who is in our country,” Seehofer said on Tuesday, insisting that the authorities should now consider various ways dealing with refugees that commit crimes.

“You have to seriously consider how such people should be treated if they violate laws or pose a threat,” he told Suddeutsche Zeitung, adding that the country cannot retreat from terror out of a sense of “prudence.”

Meanwhile, Bavaria’s interior minister went a step further, suggesting that refugees lacking ID’s must be “stopped at the border,” while migrants already in the country should be re-checked.

“A deportation into a war zone should not be taboo as well,” Hermann said, referring to criminal refugees.

Bavaria’s governor and interior minister are now waiting for the German government to take action, stating that the “people’s concerns” should be addressed.

Germany’s federal minister of interior, Thomas de Maiziere, tried to calm emotions following the attacks, saying that refugees “should not be put under general suspicion.”

In reaction, German MP Armin Schuster said: “We need a deportation culture,” as quoted by Stuttgarter Zeitung. “Some people get a feeling they can do whatever they want,” he added, slamming Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door policy towards migrants.

In the meantime, another MP and member of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Party (CDU), Volker Kauder, has also advocated for deportation processes to be sped up. “Criminals should be convicted faster and, where there is a legal possibility, deported,” he said, as quoted by Die Zeit.

Regulating the migrant influx was flagged as a “major task” for Germany in the latest poll conducted by market research company GFK, in which 83% of respondents said they are “concerned” by the number of refugees in Germany – double the figure from last year’s report.

German officials estimate that over a million migrants entered Germany in 2015, the majority of which came from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.