While there have not been any major al Qaeda terrorist attacks in Germany, the police and intelligence agencies know they have an Islamic terrorism problem. Surveys have shown that about three percent of their Moslem support al Qaeda's objectives (Islam becoming the only religion on the planet, and using force to make it happen). These Islamic radicals do not support violence, but would give aid to al Qaeda terrorists. More worrisome, the Germans believe that about 3,000 of their Moslem residents would commit terrorist acts to further the al Qaeda cause. The Germans also noted that there were 24 active Islamist groups in the country, with over 31,000 members altogether.
Many of those young al Qaeda enthusiasts lack the leadership and technical knowledge to pull off a major attack. While these 3,000 men are all for terrorist actions, only a few are willing to kill themselves doing it. This shows the importance of the former al Qaeda bases in Afghanistan. There, al Qaeda could select and train men who could whip a bunch of local enthusiasts into a team capable of carrying out an act of mass murder. The camps also trained people to make bombs and deal with the more mundane problems of avoiding detection and capture by the police.
German counter-terrorist forces know of al Qaeda trained Moslems living in Germany. But German law prohibits preventive detention, so the best the Germans can do is try and identify the most likely al Qaeda terrorists and keep an eye on them.
Britain thought they had a similar situation, and had it under control. The July 7, 2005 bombing made it clear that some British Moslems were actually very eager to act, and the government surveillance program had not caught them. After the 2005 attacks, an opinion survey found that some 18 percent of British Moslems felt little, or no, loyalty towards Britain. Worse yet, about six percent of British Moslems (largely males, and younger ones) are in favor of the attacks. That's over 100,000 people. This percentage is similar to estimates in France and Germany,
Tips from British Moslems did pick up after the 2005 attacks, but there was not much reaction in Germany or France. Meanwhile, the Europeans can only envy the FBI, which has a very active tip line. Despite a large number of American Moslems who are not happy with the war on terror, they do report anything that appears to be terrorist activity. This program has been so successful that the number of terrorist prosecutions is declining. This is due to several factors. First, the pro-al Qaeda crowd, at least the ones not sharp enough to keep their heads down, have been caught. Second, you have to assume that there are pro-al Qaeda American Moslems still out there, and smart enough to avoid being detected, but are proceeding with extreme caution, and taking their time.
Europeans tend to leave terrorism suspects under observation for a long time, while the FBI tends to pick up suspects as soon as there seems to be enough evidence to get a conviction. The European method is necessary because the Moslem community is not providing information. So the police have to observe the terrorists, see who they work with, and generate tips that way.
German counter-intelligence officials are dismayed at how passive German Moslems have been towards the threat of Islamic terrorism. A tip line for Germans to call in information about suspected terrorist activity has received little use by the 3.5 million Moslems living in Germany. The tip line has German, Arabic and Turkish speaking operators available.