Interview: Refugee problem should not be confused with terroristproblem: German expert

by Yuan Shuai
BERLIN, July 26 (Xinhua) -- The refugee problem should not be confused with the terrorist problem, a German expert on terrorism and famous analyst on politically motivated violence said Monday in an interview with Xinhua.
"We must be aware of not putting every refugee on the side of terrorism. That is not the truth," said Rolf Tophoven, head of the Institute for Crisis Prevention in Essen, Germany.
Germany has been one of the major destinations for refugees in recent years. In 2015 alone, more than 1.1 million refugees arrived in the country. This has already raised worries among quite a few Germans about potential security risks. Multiple attacks carried out by refugees concentrated in one week have once more disturbed German society.
When asked about a possible association between recent attacks, Tophoven said there were neither connections between the attackers, nor clues indicating the violence can be directly traced to the Islamic State (IS).
The problem is not that the attacks were carried out under the order of the IS, rather than they were more or less under the influence of radical propaganda of IS with audio or video clips on platforms such as social media, which often inspire radical behaviors, Tophoven said. "The persons who carried out these operations are not trained by IS nor did they have any direct connection with it."
Tophoven voiced the concern that the refugee problem may be confused with the terrorist problem. "We need to solve the refugee problem effectively and peacefully. It's a task for the politicians to convince people not to associate refugees with potential terrorist attacks," said Tophoven.
"Of course we must check refugee centers for anyone who is planning attacks, but again, we have to look at the refugee problems and potential security problems separately," he added.
Tophoven said that mixing up the two problems itself is dangerous, as regarding refugees as terrorists and suggesting to drive them out of Germany would be a very simple yet emotional answer.
"The problem is that you must separate these individual migration guys who are doing attacks and the huge masses of refugees in Germany, who are living here peacefully. It is a great challenge for our public opinion, for the democratic parties in Germany, and for the German people generally," he said, referring to the potential danger of lumping all the refugees together with the terrorists. "The attacks are only single cases."
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere also said on Monday that refugees in general should not be regarded with suspicion.
"But we know that IS tries to infiltrate into Germany and other European countries by sending terrorists disguised as refugees. That could be a danger," Tophoven said.
To confront the risk, Tophoven believed that both the government and the common citizens must behave properly. He said that those living in Germany should not panic and just continue their lives as before.
"But the sensibility must be a little bit higher to look around what's going on," he said. "The security departments must strengthen the coordination domestically and internationally."
"All together, you need to have a complete picture of intelligence on the one hand, and a good communication strategy between authorities and the people on the other hand," he said.
Tophoven said he does not think there will be any major adjustment to the current refugee policy of the government after recent events. However, "the immigration authority may handle everyone who comes to Germany with more sensitive and strict registration, and not to overlook any guy with potential terrorist ambition."



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