German Counter-Intelligence: A 12-Month Outlook

On 24 June, Germany’s domestic counter-intelligence service, BfV, alleged that Russian saboteurs were behind an arson attack on a factory in Berlin. Since 2022, Germany’s counterintelligence capabilities have been called into question by its NATO allies. In March, Britain’s former defence secretary described German intelligence as “pretty penetrated by Russian intelligence” and “neither secure nor reliable”. [source] In April however, Germany’s BfV responded by dismantling three spy networks connected to Russian and Chinese intelligence agencies. The efforts of these foreign networks ranged from sabotage groups to corporate espionage. Non-state actors however also continue to pose a threat to German security. The 22 March Crocus City Hall attack in Moscow demonstrated that terrorist groups remain capable of coordinating large-scale transnational attacks. Over the next 12 months, hostile state and non-state actors will test Germany’s counterintelligence capabilities as the nation hosts Euro 2024 and prepares for Federal Elections in 2025.

Key Judgement 1. It is highly likely Russian espionage efforts in Germany over the next 12 months will focus on monitoring Western military aid destined for Ukraine and amplifying pro-Russian political figures prior to the 2025 elections.

Key Judgement 2. It is almost certain Chinese espionage efforts in Germany will focus on stealing sensitive technologies and influencing high-level opposition politicians over the next 12 months.

Key Judgement 3. It is highly likely ISIS-K will pose the most dangerous transnational terror threat to Germany over the next 12 months.

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