The Advice Centre on Radicalisation of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees
In an interview with the Turkish newspaper Hürryiet in January 2014, Dr. de Maizière, the German Federal Minister of the Interior, was questioned about the approximately 270 persons with German connections who have travelled from Germany to Syria (among other issues). The Minister’s comments included a statement concerning the possible danger posed by jihadists who have undergone extremist radicalisation and been tested in combat.
He also spoke of the role of the parents of potential “foreign fighters”. De Maizière appealed to such people not to remain silent out of shame when confronted with a radicalisation. The Minister also called upon these parents to maintain contact with the radicalised individual at all costs.
The Minister’s statement reflects one of the central strategies of the approach to a counselling approach adopted by the Advice Centre on Radicalisation of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF). The employees who work for this advisory body provide support not just for the relatives of such individuals, but also for those within the individuals’ social environment, such as friends or teachers, giving them help and advice on how to deal with this difficult situation and, if required, also supplying a local cooperation partner capable of providing counselling in situ.
The initial aim is to provide reinforcement for the radicalised individual’s social environment, lessening the strain on the persons involved and thereby preventing any breakdown in communication between those in search of counselling and the individual in question. The relatives may well be the very people who are in a position to prevent any further radicalisation, or to act as the final remaining link between the radicalised individual and society.
Since January 2012, the BAMF has been providing a nationwide Advice Centre for all persons who are seeking advice and help because they feel, or have concrete reasons to believe, that someone within their social environment is becoming increasingly radicalised in an Islamist direction. The counselling on offer here was set up on the initiative of the former Federal Minister of the Interior Dr. Friedrich, his security services and various Muslim organisations.
The following paper is intended to provide an overview concerning the origins of the Advice Centre on Radicalisation, the counselling network and the cooperation partners involved, and the case load dealt with to date.