How to deal with Radical Islam: Conversation with the Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

PD Dr. Martin Kahl is Deputy Director at the IFSH and Head of the Research Area Societal Peace and Internal Security.


Even twenty years after the terror attacks of 9/11, Islamist terrorism continues to pose a security risk. For three years, the IFSH researchers and their colleagues from the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF) have been researching on how politics, civil society and security authorities have reacted to the threats posed by the radical Islam since 2001. The project Configurations of Social and Political Practices in Dealing with Radical Islam (KURI) is financed by the Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). During the discussion with the Ministry, project manager PD Dr Martin Kahl reported on the scientific research results of the project so far and explained how they feed into politics. 

Martin Kahl describes the changed perception of problems in politics. At the beginning, politics initially has focused on internationally organised Islamist terrorism. This included improved cooperation between security authorities, early identification of suspects and measures to combat the financing of terrorism. Moreover, there have been changes in citizenship, asylum and residence law. Only in recent years has the issue of preventing terrorism and extremism moved into focus.

Islamist-motivated terrorism, radical Islam or Islamism?

In the interview, Martin Karl also addresses the correct naming of the phenomenon and presents the results of the recently published Research Report about Islamism and Islamist Terrorism in Germany since 2001 (only available in Germany). Among other things, the paper deals with Islamist activities in Germany. Even though there were only few attacks in Germany compared to other countries, the number of attempted attacks was high. The perpetrators were highly motivated but not very skilled in implementing their attacks, according to Kahl. Besides their Islamist motivation, many of them have been diagnosed with a mental illness. But what happens to these scientific results? Martin Karl stressed that the results will be transferred into politics afterwards. Therefore, the researcher and his team are in exchange with politics, administration and security authorities and preventive services. 

The interview (only available in German) can be found on the website of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).