On Thursday, Richard Barrett, former head of counter-terrorism at the UK’s foreign intelligence agency MI6, told BBC Radio 4 there were 7,000 live cases in Germany, stating there were 550 “really extreme potential terrorists on the books … In addition to that though if you include all the Lander (local regions) in Germany they have about 7,000 live cases. As you can imagine, that is an almost impossible number to control.” Barrett added that wider group of suspects were people who had “come to attention in this context of radical extremism” and were “worthy of investigation.”
Barrett was interviewed following the attack in Berlin truck attack in which the suspect, Anis Amri, was already known to the security services through traditional forms of intelligence. Amri used at least six different aliases under three different nationalities. He was killed by police on Friday near Milan, Italy.
After the attack, the German cabinet parliament passed a bill allowing the use of the CCTV network for video surveillance for shopping centers, sports arenas, car parks and other public areas.
The Guardian points out, “In almost every terrorist act since the 9/11 attacks, those responsible were already on the radar of the intelligence agencies: the Boston bombers, the killers of Fusilier Lee Rigby in London, the attackers in Paris and Brussels. And now, Amri, the Tunisian being hunted by intelligence agencies across Europe as the prime suspect for the Berlin attack.”
Raffaello Pantucci, director of international security studies at London’s Royal United Services Institute, commented regarding the Berlin attack: “Clearly, there has been an intelligence failure.” He opined that Germany’s attempts at gathering information on the ground were not as successful as the National Security Agency in the US or the UK’s GCHQ at intercepting bulk communications.
The U.S. and the UK share information with Germany and France, but among European countries, that is not as widespread.
On Thursday, a senior foreign German politician today blamed the Berlin attack on “institutional political correctness.”