Angela Merkel Sticks With Her Plan To Integrate Migrants

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Merkel Says Attackers ‘Mock’ Germany

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany tried to reassure the country on Thursday about its national security following a string of attacks in recent weeks.

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Chancellor Angela Merkel doubled down on Thursday on her pledge that Germany would achieve what she called the “historic” task of integrating hundreds of thousands of migrants while defending freedom and democracy against the hate sown by terrorists.

 “Today, as in the past, I am convinced that we can do it — to live up to our historic task, which is a historic test in the age of globalization,” she said, in an attempt to reassure the nation after three recent violent attacks, two of them linked to the Islamic State. “We can do this.”
Ms. Merkel, who had been on vacation in her summer home in the lake district north of Berlin, returned to the capital to give her annual summer news conference and laid out a nine-point plan that she said would strike the right balance between security and freedom.

She deplored two recent attacks by men who had claimed allegiance to the Islamic State: an ax and knife attack in Würzburg by a 17-year-old refugee who said he was from Afghanistan, and a suicide bombing in Ansbach by a 27-year-old Syrian who had sought asylum in Germany. The two attacks “mock the country that took them in,” the chancellor said.

“All of this puts a great test before us,” the chancellor said of the attacks in Germany and elsewhere in Europe. “It tests our way of life, our understanding of freedom and democracy.”

Ms. Merkel vowed that authorities would carry out thorough investigations into the attacks, figure out who was behind them and take the necessary measures to improve security where it was found to be needed. Those would include adding police officers, allowing the army to be involved in response to possible terrorist attacks, seeking to tighten European weapons laws and increasing the exchange of intelligence with the United States.

Week of Violence Rattles Germany

In a span of six days in July, four high-profile attacks occurred in Germany, putting the nation on edge. Ten people were killed and more than 40 wounded in Würzburg, Munich, Reutlingen and Ansbach.

Ms. Merkel acknowledged that the recent violence in Germany — including a shooting rampage on Friday in Munich, the capital of Bavaria — had contributed to a climate of fear.

“The general feeling of uncertainty is dreadful,” she said, acknowledging that people were worried about their safety. “The state must live up to its task of restoring the greatest possible trust. And that’s what we are working on.”

Ms. Merkel emphasized that “we are not in a war or in a fight with Islam.” She added, “We fight against terrorism, also Islamic terrorism.”

Asked by reporters whether she will seek a third term, Ms. Merkel, the chancellor since 2005, said she would announce her decision “at the appropriate time,” adding, “Today, this is not the moment.”

Ms. Merkel has come under pressure, at home and from European partners, for her willingness to allow hundreds of thousands of migrants to enter the country without being properly screened by security officials. Concern about who may have entered Germany among the 1.1 million migrants and refugees who crossed the border last year has been heightened after the attacks.

On Wednesday, President Obama spoke by phone with Ms. Merkel to offer the support of the United States in the investigations into the attacks and to reaffirm the need for close cooperation in counterterrorism and broader security affairs, the White House said.

Hours before the chancellor spoke, the interior and justice ministers in Bavaria — the southern state that was the entry point for hundreds of thousands of people who arrived in 2015, and the state where both of the recent attacks linked to the Islamic State occurred — presented a new security plan for the state that foresees expanding the police force by 2,000 over the next four years, an expansion of the video surveillance of public places and trains, and more stringent monitoring of the internet and social media channels.

 Joachim Herrmann, the Bavarian interior minister, insisted that the policy of allowing migrants to enter the country unscreened must be stopped, in a direct challenge to the existing policy of Ms. Merkel’s government.
“There can no longer be uncontrolled entry into the country,” said Mr. Herrmann, a member of the Christian Social Union, the Bavaria-only sister party to Ms. Merkel’s Christian Democrats. He insisted that the country needed a policy of migration based on transparency and the rule of law and order.

On Tuesday, Mr. Herrmann said the authorities had discovered messages exchanged between Mohammad Daleel, who carried out the attack in Ansbach that injured 15 people, and another person, who has not been identified and who they believe may have been involved.

“From this chat, we have learned that another person, wherever he was at the time of the chat, significantly influenced the actions of the attacker,” Mr. Herrmann said.

Along with the two attacks celebrated by the Islamic State — in which the only deaths were of the attackers themselves — the authorities are continuing to investigate the shooting rampage in Munich.

The Bavarian State Criminal Police and state prosecutors in Munich said on Thursday that they were investigating reports in the German news media that the attacker — Ali Sonboly, an 18-year-old dual citizen of Iran and Germany who killed himself — may have subscribed to right-wing and racist ideologies. He harbored a hatred for Turks and Arabs; prided himself on sharing a birthday with Adolf Hitler; and carried out his attacks on the fifth anniversary of a massacre in Norway by Anders Behring Breivik.

The authorities said that although they were unable to confirm the news reports, they had found “some indications that could provide a plausible explanation for the situation and behavior.” Most of the shooting victims had an immigrant background, like Mr. Sonboly, whose parents were from Iran.

New York Times

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