In his memoirs, Michael von Wedel, a former agent at Germany’s Federal Bureau for Criminal Investigations (BKA), recalls the frantic activity at the agency following the 9/11 attacks. “…All the investigations, dragnets and other measures that were now gearing up,” he writes, “were accompanied by a certain shame and collective bad conscience concerning the fact that the biggest terrorist attack in modern history had been planned by Mohamed Atta and his Hamburg Cell precisely on German soil….”
The German government and parliament also took action, adding a new paragraph to the criminal code, criminalizing membership in a foreign terror organization. Paragraph 129b was supposed to be the essential crime-fighting tool that would allow law-enforcement officers like Mr. von Wedel to strike against German-based terror operatives and networks before an attack.
Now, following the detention of Hamburg resident Ahmad Siddiqui by American forces in Afghanistan, much of the world’s media is only just “discovering” the substantial presence of German jihadists in the region. Whatever happened to paragraph 129b?
See my new comment in the Wall Street Journal Europe here.