Call to beef up German synagogue security after Iran is linked to attacks

Leading security issues warning after Hell’s Angel murder suspect who fled to Iran was connected to attacks on shuls


IN the wake of increased threats to Jewish life in Germany linked to Iran, a leading security expert says protection for synagogues across the country needs rethinking.

His comments come after a Hell’s Angel suspected of murder who fled to Iran was connected to three recent attacks on synagogue buildings, while a Syrian-born police informant was linked to the targeting of the head of Germany’s Jewish community.

Stefan Bisanz, founder of the Institute for Terrorism Research & Security Policy (Iftus), told the JC: “I feel the security level of synagogues is too low.

“There should be a complete restructuring. I’m thinking, for example, of a single organisation managing all of it. It would look after the entire infrastructure from a single source, and adapt to situations accordingly.”

He was speaking after it was reported that Josef Schuster, President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, may have been targeted by Iranian hit squad Quds Force.

Der Spiegel magazine reported: “It was circulating in security circles that a high-ranking figure in Jewish life in Germany was being spied on behalf of Iran. This could only be about Josef Schuster.”

Focus magazine pointed the finger at Damascus-born Aladin Mohamed H, 49, who is based in Stuttgart and was an informant of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), which is tasked with monitoring extremists. Focus reported that the BfV examined his telecommunications, which revealed that he was connected to the Iranian secret service, MOIS.

He was arrested and is thought to have been providing the Iranians with sensitive data on targeted individuals, which could help the planning of attacks.

He worked for two departments at the BfV: Department Six, which is responsible for monitoring dangerous Islamic radicals, and Department Four, which monitors foreign agents.

Kontraste magazine claims that a German-Iranian Hells Angel is the focus of an investigation led by the Federal Prosecutor General into several attacks on synagogues in North Rhine-Westphalia.

The man, named in the media as Ramin Yektarapast, is the founder of the Mönchengladbach branch of the Hells Angels.

An international arrest warrant for him was issued in connection with a 2014 murder within the local biker scene. He is thought to have fled to Iran last year but claims on social media that he is on holiday.

Kontraste claims authorities assume Yektarapast is the secret leader for attacks in Germany on behalf of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

They claim to have identified a “state terrorism” connection between recent attacks: shots fired at the Old Synagogue building in Essen, a failed arson attack on the synagogue in Bochum, and incitement to an arson attack on the Dortmund synagogue.

The Central Council of Jews and German ministry of defence refused to comment on whether Mr Schuster had been targeted. But the council has confirmed that threats against him have increased in recent years.

German authorities have become increasingly concerned with Iranian terrorism issues. Last month the deputy director of an Iranian outpost in Hamburg, Seyed Soliman Mousavafir, was expelled from the country because of “ties with various terrorist groups”, according to the German equivalent of M15, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BND).

For Mr Bisanz, who in a 40-year career in the security sector has worked with the German Ministry of Defence and the military police, it is important for Germany to think long-term about reworking security for Jewish institutions.

It must do everything it can to avoid just having a short-term, knee-jerk reaction, he argues.

“There is always the typical reflex that after an attack, security at the scene of the event is increased for a few days and then it is withdrawn again.
“Instead the overall level of security must be increased throughout Germany in order to be credible.”

Meanwhile, German police have arrested 25 people with far-right and former military connections suspected of plotting a coup. They were held following a massive operation involving 3,000 officers working across 11 states.

One of the alleged ringleaders was said to be a minor aristocrat, Prince Heinrich XIII. The plotters are said to have been planning an attack on the parliament building in Berlin, the Reichstag, prior to attempting to seize power.

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