Vom Selbst- zum Massenmord/From suicide to mass-murder

Terroristische Propaganda und die Verantwortung der Medien

Alexander Ritzmann

tv diskurs: 20. Jg., 4/2016 (Ausgabe 78), S. 48-51

Die strategischen Ziele und taktischen Maßnahmen terroristischer Organisationen werden von den Medien häufig falsch vermittelt. Journalisten fungieren außerdem als unfreiwillige Helfershelfer der Propagandaabteilungen von al-Qaida oder des Islamischen Staates. Kinder, Jugendliche und psychisch labile Erwachsene, die besonders anfällig für extreme Einflüsse sind, können durch diese Art der Berichterstattung zur Nachahmung von Attentaten und Amokläufen inspiriert werden.


In this article, EFD´s Executive Director Alexander Ritzmann highlights that media outlets often involuntarily serve as extended propaganda channels of terrorist organizations. In the current issue of “tv diskurs”, the magazine of the organization for the self-regulation of television in Germany (FSF), Alexander argues that many media outlets don´t put terrorist propaganda and attacks in context and therefore spread fear and confusion. Research on the effects of unreflected media reporting on suicides and mass shootings indicates that especially minors and adults with specific mental illnesses can be inspired to imitate extreme behavior if the individuals are in a personal crisis at the time of the reporting. In extreme cases, this can motivate individuals who are considering suicide to committing mass murder because of the attention and “fame” affiliated with these crimes. Alexander calls for journalists and media companies to explain terrorist tactics and strategies better to their audiences to foster the resilience of individuals and societies.

Inforadio – Was alle Extremisten vereint


Fr 05.08.2016 | 09:05 | Interviews

Was alle Extremisten vereint

„Extremistische Gewalt in Deutschland hat in den vergangenen Jahren deutlich zugenommen und zwar auf allen Seiten. Heiner Martin sprach mit dem Extremismus-Experten Alexander Ritzmann darüber, was alle Extremisten – trotz aller inhaltlichen Unterschiede – vereint: eine „Anti-Haltung“ gegenüber dem bestehenden System. Gleichzeitig möchte jede Ideologie am Ende ihre eigene Utopie, ihre „perfekte Welt“ – ob das jetzt das kommunistische Paradies ist, das „völkische“ Paradies oder das Kalifat. „

Europe can survive ISIS without electing nutjobs (EurActiv)


By James Crisp | EurActiv.com

Terrorism is not new to Europe, despite the recent Islamic State inspired attacks that have rocked France and Germany, Alexander Ritzmann has said. The terror and radicalisation expert said it was vital that the outrages did not lead to policy decisions confusing migration with terrorism ahead of crunch elections in Germany and France next year.

Alexander Ritzmann is Senior Advisor to the European Foundation for Democracy in Brussels. He chairs the Communication and Narratives Working Group at the European Commission’s Radicalisation Awareness Network and teaches on terrorism at Potsdam University. Ritzmann was a member of the Berlin State Parliament, overseeing the state police and intelligence agency. He spoke to EurActiv.com News Editor James Crisp yesterday (26 July) after the terrorist attacks in Nice, Würzburg, and Ansbach but before the attack in Rouen (26 July).

Could the recent attacks in Germany have an impact on the country’s asylum policy?

There is a perception that the attacks are linked to the welcoming of refugees to Germany.  But it is the job of policymakers and the media to help the population understand the difference.  If there are 500,000 Syrian refugees and one of them stabs someone that is not something that policy should be dealing with. It is a crime and it should be investigated by the police. And, by the way, the average Syrian refugee commits fewer crimes than the average German citizen.

There is of course the potential for radicalisation and for sectarian violence. The refugees bring the conflict with them. Right now everyone is focused on settling and surviving but I am absolutely sure the conflict in Syria will come back to people. Already, they do not trust other Syrian refugees, they will ask where they come from, for example. When you talk to them, they could have family and friends who have been tortured or murdered by someone in the next room belonging to the same group. We work with Syrians on overcoming these sectarian divisions.

There’s also potential for radicalisation in the future if the government doesn’t work with the right institutions. There are some very conservative organisations in Germany with links to the Muslim Brotherhood, people who would rather build parallel societies than integrate. But the government wants to work with organisations, even if those are mentioned in domestic intelligence reports as having Muslim Brotherhood ties, being part of political Islam. And these organisations can become partly government funded, which can lead to uncomfortable headlines in the future.Weiterlesen »

Germany harbors 300 Hamas, 950 Hezbollah members and activists

Some 300 Hamas members and supporters – as well as 950 Hezbollah activists and members – are operating in Germany, the country’s domestic intelligence agency said in its annual federal report, the same numbers as were listed in its 2013 and 2014 reports.

The Jerusalem Post’s examination of the 317-page intelligence report, which was released on Tuesday, revealed the Islamic terrorists were on the radar screen of the country’s intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution.

“The followers of Islamist- terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah striving for the abolition of the Jewish State of Israel are focused on their regions of origin, which is where they commit most of their terrorist acts of violence,” the report stated.

Europe has long been a platform for Hezbollah members to launch terrorist attacks against Israelis and European Jews. Hezbollah operatives blew up an Israeli tour bus in the Black Sea resort of Burgas, Bulgaria, on July 18, 2012, killing five Israelis and their Bulgarian bus driver.

The EU included Hezbollah’s so-called military wing on its terrorism list in 2013, but Hezbollah’s political operation remains a legal organization in Europe. The US, Canada, the Arab League, and the Netherlands proscribed all of Hezbollah’s organization to be a terrorist militia.


The number of pro-Israel protesters ranged from 260 to 500. Hadas-Handelsman said it is a “disgrace” that for the last 20 years in Germany, agitating publicly against Jews and Israel is allowed.

The intelligence report noted that a German court in 2015 rejected the claim by the Lebanon Orphan Children Project that it is not involved in terrorist activities.

The alleged charity was outlawed in 2014, and has renamed itself “Colors for Orphans.”

The Lebanon Orphan Children’s Project was founded in 1997, and transferred donations to the al-Shahid (“The Martyr”) Association in Lebanon. Al-Shahid was “disguised as a humanitarian organization” and “promotes violence and terrorism in the Middle East using donations collected in Germany and elsewhere,” according to a 2009 European Foundation for Democracy report by Middle East expert Alexander Ritzmann.

The donations to Lebanon Orphan Children’s Project aided the families of suicide bombers who murdered Israelis.

The report also estimated the number of Islamic extremists could be as high as 10,000 in the Federal Republic. Radical Islamists likely have infiltrated the flow of refugees entering Germany, the report noted.


By Teri Schultz,


Full article can be found here.

„A member of the RAN’s counter-narrative working group, Alexander Ritzmann of the European Foundation for Democracy, also emphasises the issue of credibility and trust, which he says is as important as the content of the message being conveyed.

Ritzmann says for those trying to prevent radicalisation, having a former member of the organisation deliver that information is infinitely more effective than hoping an official can make policy sound exciting or relevant to a youth who’s already been conditioned to reject perspectives of the state. Ritzmann encourages seeking out this kind of intermediary to make any alternate narrative palatable to disaffected youngsters.

“So, someone who says ‘I went to Syria, it’s not like they say [it is]- they’re lying to you, they’re killing Muslims, it’s a corrupt organisation. It’s not a big adventure where you can be a hero defending your faith,’” Ritzmann suggests.

“And this is what some of the defectors are saying. And this is then somewhat a credible messenger, but the government is not credible at all if you look at the target group of vulnerable youth.”

That said, the internet has been traditionally the best recruiting tool radical groups have had, an inexpensive way to reach virtually every teen and to exploit any potential weakness, easily tracked due to careless sharing of personal information on social media. Avramopoulos calls it the “most important battleground” in the counter-radicalisation fight, where youth find the “poison” of online extremism.

The radical recruiters can also often find examples of, for example, Islamophobia to help convince a target youth that his or her community is being discriminated against. The European Commission has also worked to get large internet service providers to help get rid of hate speech of all kinds.

Facebook and Twitter are among those who recently signed a voluntary pledge to take down such remarks within 24 hours of being notified of them. A new element of this practice will see internet providers create a database of this deleted “terrorist content” for law enforcement to use for research and evidence.

But experts like Alexander Ritzmann warn that to believe the internet is the main  source of radicalisation would be a mistake. Ritzmann says personal connections  are still the main driver, that youth are being radicalised in living rooms more than chat rooms.“

Hezbollah – banning and negotiating are not contradictions

In this article, published in the German daily Der Tagesspiegel, I advocate for putting Hezbollah as a whole on the EU terrorist list due to its proven record as a terrorist organisation and the fact that all decisions, political or military/terrorism related, are being made in its leadership Shura Council. Since Hezbollah is also a significant political actor in Lebanon, unofficial negotiations can still take place and the ban could be adjusted in case Hezbollah would stop its terrorist activities.

Hisbollah – Verbieten und verhandeln sind kein Widerspruch (Tagesspiegel)

Der Tagesspiegel (Causa), 02.Juni 2016, Alexander Ritzmann

Die Hisbollah ist eine komplexe Organisation. Anfang der 1980er Jahre entsandte der iranische Revolutionsführer Ayatollah Khomeini Imame und Revolutionstruppen in den Libanon, um seine Form des schiitischen Gottesstaates über den Iran hinaus zu verbreiten. Seit dem hat sich die Hisbollah (übersetzt: „Partei Gottes“) von einer religiös/politischen Miliz zu einer Art Staat im Staate Libanon entwickelt. In den mehrheitlich schiitischen Gebieten des Landes betreibt die Hisbollah Krankenhäuser und Schulen, sie baut Straßen und Häuser und sie kontrolliert die öffentliche Ordnung durch eigene Sicherheitsdienste. Die „Partei Gottes“ tritt auch zu Wahlen an, beteiligt sich an Regierungen und spielt vor allem hinter den Kulissen eine gewichtige Rolle in der libanesischen Innenpolitik.

Die Hisbollah positioniert sich als Widerstandsorganisation gegen Israel und US-amerikanischen Einfluss, als Vertreter der historisch benachteiligten Schiiten im Libanon und als Repräsentantin des iranischen Regimes. Mit ihren eigenen Sicherheitsdiensten und paramilitärischen Einheiten wurden in der Vergangenheit vor allem Israel und innenpolitische Konkurrenten bekämpft. Die Hisbollah unterstützt jedoch auch bedingungslos das (pro-iranische) syrische Assad-Regime im Kampf gegen Rebellen, die wiederum von anderen arabischen Staaten unterstützt werden. Der regionale Konflikt zwischen Saudi Arabien und dem Iran spielt hier eine gewichtige Rolle. In diesem Kontext hat die Liga der Arabischen Staaten die Hisbollah im März dieses Jahres als Terrororganisation klassifiziert.Weiterlesen »

No Charity (Foreign Policy)

Germany’s crackdown on a Hezbollah-affiliated group shows that it may finally be wising up about the Lebanese paramilitary organization.

Link to original article


On April 8, German police officers raided the offices of the innocuously named Lebanon Orphan Children Project (Waisenkinderprojekt Libanon e.V.) across six states in the Federal Republic. Theseized cash and files from its properties, and froze two bank accounts totaling $143,000. But this group wasn’t a humanitarian organization — the German government had come to accept that it was a Hezbollah front, and shut it down effective immediately.

The Lebanon Orphan Children Project was created in 1997, and funneled donations to the al-Shahid („The Martyr“) Association in Lebanon. Al-Shahid was „disguised as a humanitarian organization“ and „promotes violence and terrorism in the Middle East using donations collected in Germany and elsewhere,“ according to a 2009 report by German security expert Alexander Ritzmann.

The al-Shahid Association, Ritzmann wrote, provides financial support to the families of fallen Hezbollah members. In other words, German donations were being used to support the families of suicide bombers who targeted Israelis, to support Hezbollah combatants in Syria, and to generate more recruits.

Five years later, Germany’s Interior Ministry accepted Ritzmann’s reasoning. „The name of this organization masks it real purpose,“ Emily Haber, state secretary at the Interior Ministry, said on Tuesday. „The group is not a humanitarian organization.“Weiterlesen »

Despite Alarm by U.S., Europe Lets Hezbollah Operate Openly (The New York Times)

August 15, 2012



BERLIN — As American officials sound the alarm over what they call a resurgent threat from the Shiite militant group Hezbollah, thousands of its members and supporters operate with few restrictions in Europe, raising money that is funneled to the group’s leadership in Lebanon.

Washington and Jerusalem insist that Hezbollah is an Iranian-backed terrorist organization with bloody hands, and that it is working closely with Tehran to train, arm and finance the Syrian military’s lethal repression of the uprising there. Yet, the European Unioncontinues to treat it foremost as a Lebanese political and social movement.

As Israel heightens fears of a pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear sites, intelligence analysts warn that Iran and Hezbollah would respond with attacks of their own on targets abroad. Israeli and American officials have attributed the Bulgarian bus bombing last month that killed six people, including five Israeli tourists, to Hezbollah and Iran, saying it was part of a clandestine offensive that has included plots in Thailand, India, Cyprus and elsewhere.

While the group is believed to operate all over the Continent, Germany is a center of activity, with 950 members and supporters last year, up from 900 in 2010, Germany’s domestic intelligence agency said in its annual threat report. On Saturday, Hezbollah supporters and others will march here for the annual Jerusalem Day event, a protest against Israeli control of that city. Organizers told the Berlin police that the event would attract 1,000 marchers, and that two counterdemonstrations were also likely.

Hezbollah has maintained a low profile in Europe since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, quietly holding meetings and raising money that goes to Lebanon, where officials use it for an array of activities — building schools and clinics, delivering social services and, Western intelligence agencies say, carrying out terrorist attacks.

European security services keep tabs on the group’s political supporters, but experts say they are ineffective when it comes to tracking the sleeper cells that pose the most danger. “They have real, trained operatives in Europe that have not been used in a long time, but if they wanted them to become active, they could,” said Alexander Ritzmann, a policy adviser at the European Foundation for Democracy in Brussels, who has testified before Congress on Hezbollah.Weiterlesen »