BERLIN – Top security officials in Germany called Tuesday for tougher security screening of asylum-seekers and also announced that more police officers will be hired following four attacks in the country – two of them claimed by the extremist Islamic State group.
Horst Seehofer, the interior minister of Bavaria – where three of last week’s attacks took place – told the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung Tuesday: “We must know who is in our country.”
Thomas Strobl, the interior minister of Baden-Wuerttemberg – where a woman was killed by a Syrian attacker Sunday – also demanded a tougher stance toward asylum-seekers.
“Those who abuse the right to hospitality must go back to their home countries – make no mistake about it,” Strobl told Funke media group.
Three of the attacks were carried out by recent immigrants, rekindling concerns about Germany’s ability to cope with the estimated 1 million migrants registered entering the country last year.
Seehofer also announced that the state of Bavaria would hire more police officers.
“The increase will be significant,” he said.
The demands for better security screening of migrants and increased police presence in Germany came after a 27-year-old Syrian asylum-seeker set off a backpack laden with explosives and shrapnel Sunday night after being refused entry to a crowded music festival in the Bavarian city of Ansbach, killing himself and wounding 15 people.
VIDEO: Syrian refugee kills woman with machete in Germany
The extremist Islamic State group published a video early Tuesday in which a man pledges allegiance to IS and vows Germany’s people “won’t be able to sleep peacefully anymore.” It appears to be the same as the one found by German investigators on the suicide bomber’s phone.
The man on the video, his face covered with a black scarf, threatens to make life intolerable and that “we will blow up your homes.” German authorities could not immediately be reached to confirm whether the video was the same.
On the video the attacker said he acted in response to the extremist group’s call to target countries of the U.S.-led coalition fighting it in Iraq and Syria. Germany is not involved in combat operations but has contributed reconnaissance aircraft to the effort.
After the IS connection surfaced, federal prosecutors in Karlsruhe, who investigate all suspected terrorism, took over the case saying they would seek to “determine if thus-far unknown accomplices or backers were involved in the crime.”
The suspect came to Germany two years ago and applied for asylum in August 2014, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said. It turned out that he had already registered in Bulgaria and later in Austria, so Germany rejected his request and ordered him deported to Bulgaria – most recently on July 13.
Asylum-seekers are routinely deported to the first country where they registered if they don’t follow proper procedures, even if they’re considered to have a legitimate asylum claim.
Sarah El Deeb contributed from Cairo, Egypt.