GSG9: Germany’s elite anti-terror police squad to expand

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Germany’s elite police squad GSG 9, which deals with terrorist attacks, is to become significantly larger and will set up a second base in Berlin.

GSG 9 commander Jérome Fuchs stated, “If you look at comparable terrorist situations across Europe, then it was often capital cities that were affected,” Fuchs told the station. “It is essential that we are better prepared in the capital. Our aim is clear: GSG 9 needs to be capable of quicker reactions in the capital.”

GSG9 was established in reaction to the kidnapping and murder of Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. The police’s handling of the situation was fiercely criticised.

Since then, the force has carried out around 1,900 missions, most famously the successful 1977 operation in Mogadishu, Somalia in which officers stormed a Lufthansa flight that had been hijacked by Palestinian terrorists and safely released all 86 hostages.

Rolf Tophoven, the veteran counter-terrorism expert who wrote the first book on GSG 9 in 1977, said the move to Berlin was “overdue.” “It’s very important to have the strong presence of an anti-terror unit in the capital,” he told DW.

“According to the German security forces, the terrorist situation has not become less dangerous, despite the military defeat of ‘Islamic State’ — on the contrary it could have become more dangerous,” he added. “The other point is that a few things are coming to a head in organised crime, and for that it is important to have a powerful unit.”

Tophoven estimates that the GSG 9 will be looking to deploy over 100 new officers in Berlin, though other anti-terror measures have also been taken. Over the last year the federal police has set up new on-call reserve units across the country to provide a first-response to terrorist attacks — whereas the GSG 9 performs planned operations.

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