Monday, 16 December 2013

This story is from 2010.
Bremen/Berlin – They came to Bremen to remain. The two brothers from an infamous Kurd-Arab clan appeared in the foreigners’ office, and they even took their lawyer with them. This happened in August. But the talks did not go as they would have wished, Mohammed and Halil M. became furious. They began shouting and cursing, they insulted an official, and according to the police, they attacked a security guard. But he, a Chechen kickboxer, defended himself. One of the brothers rolled down a staircase.

Hours later the police finally succeeded in somehow calming the situation down. The suspects were ranting and raving in the police station: they knew where the security guard lived, and they openly told the guards that they knew his family, and as the agents described it, they said they would finish him, kill him. And because the duo had police records, as later came out, they landed in a cell. And the security guard got temporary protection.

This case is from many points of view characteristic of the problems that have arisen in some regions in Germany – and which a great number of specialists consider to be unsolvable: foreign mafia clans with thousands of members have developed a dominant position in organised crime through the use of legal loopholes, social benefits and international contacts.

A criminal parallel society

They trade with heroin and cocaine, run brothels and engage in smuggling. The brutality which characterises their activities has helped them maintain power in their milieu. Police are scared of them. The activities of the clans are watched by the state usually in a passive way, politicians ignore this phenomenon.

In this way, a criminal parallel society has developed over the years in Germany, a criminal parallel society which would not necessarily have developed if things had been handled at an early stage and with resolve: a commission from the federal crime police office had already in 2004 warned about the impossibility of keeping the ethnic groups under control and also about the so-called Mhallamiye-Kurds, to which the M. clan in Bremen belongs.

At that time, the special investigators from the Federal Government and the Federal States criticised the failure of all integration efforts and attacked the German Justice system. It was stated that the courts made the situation much worse with their continuous leniency due to a misconceived tolerance.

“Ethnically closed subcultures” (this could be read in the report which had been repeatedly amended to make it sound milder) “had already firmly established themselves thanks to significant abuse of the existing weak points of the German Foreigner and Asylum Rights.”

The breaking up of such criminal structures will be possible “only in segments”. And this will be possible only through the common work of “all offices dealing with these issues, the support of the Justice, and with the development of tactical criminal investigative procedures”. In other words: never.

False identities

The M’s from Bremen, who even showed up publicly in T-shirts with the inscription “The Golden M” and their full family name, all encircled with a laurel wreath, are seen by the police as synonymous for the problem with the Mhallamite Kurds. They established themselves mainly in Berlin, Bremen and Essen after having arrived in the 80’s as alleged civil war refugees from Lebanon.

Many of the 150,000 immigrants coming from the Kurdish zone in the southeastern part of Turkey destroyed their papers before traveling to Germany and gave false identities to the authorities, thus hoping to get the right to stay permanently. And in many cases they succeeded. The officially stateless persons can be deported only in exceptional cases. “And even when deportation is possible, it almost never takes place,” an investigator complained. “You can forget about it completely.”

Last winter the senator for home affairs in Bremen, Ulrich Maurer, announced offensive measures against the criminal clans after the press had been reporting day after day about their activities. He promised to apply a “zero tolerance” strategy, a coordinated and resolute plan of action on the part of all the agencies involved. Visits of social workers, judicial officers and teachers had to be made with police escort. He told citizens that “we must address this problem in a tangible way”.

Not much has happened since then.

In fact, there are four agents who have to keep an eye on the infringements, offences and crimes of some 200 selected members of the clan. They know their immigrant legal status, which legal procedures are running against them or which are the real names of the given subjects – for many offenders have up to 16 identities.

But when asked about how the promised collaboration with the educational and social authorities works and if there is coordination, information exchange, counselling, or about how a youngster could be prevented from starting a criminal career in his clan, the investigator just laughs: “There are no such things.”

What happens is just the opposite: it is not uncommon that a subject continues getting social benefits, but the police authorities cannot reveal where he lives on grounds of data protection. “It is simply absurd.”

Wilhelm Hinners, a Christian Democrat politician from Bremen, also criticised the fact that “the promised interaction of the authorities does not work. We let criminals go on far too often, thus validating the way they act.”

And this has consequences.

"They see us as a society to be looted"

The number of legal procedures against the members of the Bremen clan has doubled in the last ten years, according to the police. And the number of people involved seems to grow: in 2009, the investigators suspected some 300 individuals of having committed more than 800 punishable acts. In the first half of 2010 it was already 230 individuals and 380 offences. “They see us as a society to be looted, as born victims and losers,” a high-ranking criminal police official said already in December 2009 to SPIEGEL ONLINE. There is no end in sight. Just the contrary: there are almost 800 kids in the Bremen clan.

The deceased juvenile court judge Kirsten Heisig also described the alarming phenomenon of the ethno-clans in her posthumously published book “The End of Patience”:
A family, father, mother, 10-15 children, in some cases even 19 children, all of them emigrate from Lebanon. Some of the children are still born “at home”, some others in Germany. The mother already has grandsons even before having given birth to the last child. That is why a clan grows at a breathtaking speed. As for the nationality of the family, what appears in the documents is “stateless”, “not clarified”, “Lebanese”, or increasingly “German”, too. So they get government welfare benefits and child allowances.

A huge family like that can easily be the subject of hundreds of investigation proceedings. If the drug trafficking or any other illegal activities are disturbed by a rival clan or by gangs of another ethnicity, the problem is solved by them killing each other, or at least trying to.

(…) the female relatives steal mainly, and the male ones commit crimes of any kind found in the penal code. From drugs and crimes against private property through insults, threats, robberies, extortion, dangerous physical injuries, sexual crimes and pimping right up to assassination, everything is present. The children grow up uncontrolled inside these criminal structures.”

Firmly established organised crime

In Berlin the clans are firmly established in organised crime. The 20-30 feared Arab clans make money from drugs, prostitution, smuggling of weapons and protection money, according to the police. Investigators also connect them to some of the crimes that have caused the biggest sensations in recent memory, including the break-in of the luxury department store KaDeWe and the attack on the poker tournament in the Hyatt.

At the same time, members of the most infamous clan succeeded in getting together with a well-known rapper. In this way, men included in voluminous police dossiers romp about at huge social events with the famous and do business completely legally: they buy real estate, run clubs and discos, organise “events”. The investigators cannot track where all the money for these projects comes from. “This is what organised crime looks like”, the official sighs.

These men who are keen to show themselves off in big cars and wearing expensive watches are examples revered by the forthcoming generation. The senior prosecutor in Berlin, Roman Reusch, concluded that in those clans “systematic education for the professional practice of crime is taking place”.

A “help-yourself” mentality has developed

According to Reusch, the youngsters grow up in an ambience in which “the most severe crimes are completely normal”. “They have developed a help-yourself mentality in which they always take what they want, everywhere and as often as they want.” This makes them an “ideal constituent for organised crime groups.”

Wilhelm Hinners is of the opinion that the war against the clans is already long ago lost. “I fear that the chances have already gone away, we will never be able to dismantle the structures”. Now it is only about damming up the influence of the criminal families from public life, “for if not, then someday we’ll be really amazed”.

The word “toughness”

The senior prosecutor in Berlin, Roman Reusch, had an even stronger fighting mood back in 2007, even if his suggestions were draconian: deportations, incarcerations, preventing criminals from getting (German) nationality, limiting the possibilities of bringing family members, checking the willingness to integrate. The special investigator who had been dealing for years with intensive criminality among youngsters even warned of “civil war-like conditions” in Germany and hoped for public pressure.
But it left him in the lurch.

Reusch was later deposed and moved to an unimportant, but, most of all, non-political post. His successor as expert for youth criminality had previously been dealing with road traffic offences. As he took up his duties, he was asked whether he would take the same drastic measures as his predecessor and apply toughness against criminal youngsters. His answer was: “I don’t like the word toughness.”
Source: Der Spiegel


See Part 1 here.

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