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Overseas Security Advisory Council
Bureau of Diplomatic Security
U.S. Department of State

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OSAC Threat Assessment: 2020 Munich Security Conference

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

The 2020 Munich Security Conference (MSC) will take place over the February 14-16 weekend at Hotel Bayerischer Hof. This year marks the MSC’s 56th meeting, which will attract more than 500 high-level participants, including heads of government, ministers, members of parliament, heads of international organizations, international CEOs, accredited press, and other stakeholders. Currently, OSAC is not aware of any credible or specific threats against the MSC or its participants. Protests aimed at the event may cause some localized disruptions, and there is a general risk of terrorism throughout Europe. The following assessment provides information on potential security concerns to the private sector during the event.

 

LOGISTICS AND HOST-NATION SECURITY

 

There will be temporary roadblocks and stopping bans, which will most likely result in considerable traffic. There will also be parking bans. Illegally parked vehicles in these no-stopping zones will be towed. There is also the likelihood that there may be occasional temporary no-go zones outside the extended area of downtown Munich. The trams and buses will also likely be partially affected. Tram line 19 between Karlsplatz and Maxmonument will be diverted via Sendlinger-Tor-Platz. However, police are advising individuals planning to drive into the city during the conference to consider the use of public transportation instead. Additional travel time should be allotted since trams will be diverting around the security zone, and heavier than usual congestion is possible. More information on travel disruptions will be available on the Munich transit authority’s website (MVV) and on BayernInfo.

 

There will be heightened security posture in the vicinity of the hotel, and the Munich city center. In 2019, roughly 4,000 local police officers and soldiers were deployed to support the MSC, and similar numbers are most likely to be deployed this year. The venue can only be accessed by attendees of the conference from Friday, February 14, 6:00am to Sunday, February 16, 5:00pm.

 

The security zone will include Promanadenplatz, Prannerstraße, Kardinal-Faulhaber-Straße, Hartmannstraße, and Karmeliterstraße. Only pre-cleared individuals and those who have event passes will be allowed to enter the zone. Individuals entering the security zone will be required to present their IDs/passes and may have their belongings searched. No street parking will be allowed in the security zone and police may redirect traffic patterns in the vicinity.

 

Police are advising individuals who are planning to drive into the city during the conference to use public transportation instead. If traveling by vehicle, travelers should incorporate adequate transportation time mostly due to vehicular traffic belonging to the large number of official convoys. Drones will also be banned, even for official media reporting.



CRIME

 

Crime in Munich does not pose a significant security challenge for visitors. Hotel Bayerischer Hof is located in Old Town Munich, in the vicinity of Fünf Höfe shopping mall, and about a quarter of a mile away from Marienplatz, Munich’s central square. Violent crime targeting visitors is rare, as the most prevalent concern is related to street crime and petty theft. Tourist areas such as train stations, Internet cafes, crowded restaurants, and outdoor markets are typically locations where petty thieves operate. Travelers can mitigate most crime risk by keeping valuables secure (such as in a hotel safe) and maintaining good situational awareness in public.

 

The use of trains – particularly the U-Bahn and S-Bahn systems – can be very convenient. Transportation centers and trains, however, are an appealing target for criminals and terrorists. Despite any enhanced security, these venues remain a soft target. Crimes are common in and around U-Bahn and S-Bahn systems and stations. Crime is often in direct proportion to the lateness of the hour.

 

There have been multiple media accounts of conflicts between male refugees and women throughout Germany. Events in Cologne in 2015/2016, coupled with the terror attacks over the past three years, have led to a more robust and proactive approach to policing and securing large

public events. The 2016 New Year’s Eve celebrations saw an increased police presence and fewer complaints of assaults, as police report having expelled large numbers of aggressive young men from the scenes of the previous year’s attacks. In 2017, a ”women’s safety zone” was introduced to further combat and respond to the indecent attacks committed during New Year’s Eve celebrations. Throughout the year, there were multiple reports of inappropriate behavior by suspected refugees at public pools and spas. The alleged behavior involves, but was not limited to, harassment and unwanted physical contact. There have also been reports of assaults or harassment based on other factors, such as sexual orientation, nationality, and religion. One such report involved suspects throwing rocks at a transgender individual. In another case, a refugee stabbed another refugee for wearing a crucifix.

 

Extensive information regarding reported crime statistics and German crime prevention programs is available in several languages on the Bundeskriminalamt, or BKA website.

 

Cybersecurity Issues

 

Cybercrime remains a major concern. Recently, cyber-attacks in Germany targeting information infrastructures, government institutions, businesses, and private citizens have increased in frequency and complexity. The MSC and its attendees could be an attractive target for cyber hacktivists, who could use viruses and other malware, website defacement, denial of service attacks, or online campaigns to further their objectives.

 

TERRORISM

 

There is a general risk of terrorism throughout Europe, and in Munich. However, the MSC has not been specifically targeted by Islamist extremists. Currently, OSAC is not aware of any specific, credible terrorist threats against the MSC 2020. The MSC does not appear to be a priority target for Islamist extremist actors targeting Europe, as their focus is usually on soft target locations with potentially high civilian casualties. More targeted attacks have been directed against police and military personnel, religious interests, and public personalities critical of Islam.

 

Extreme far-right groups have gained some traction in Germany, re-energized by the recent refugee crisis. As a result, terror attacks, harassment, vandalism, arson, and threats of violence against refugees and immigrants have been on the rise. Authorities estimate that there are 2,360 right-wing extremists in Bavaria, of whom 1000 are potentially violent. In 2018, there were 63 violent crimes, mostly assaults, and 1,771 crimes categorizes as non-violent, including anti-Semitism, hate crimes, sedition, and damage to public property. In October 2019 in Halle, an individual armed with a gun attempted to gain entry to a synagogue; when the assailant was unable to do so, he turned his weapon on a woman passing by and later at a nearby restaurant, killing two people. After the capture of the attacker, police reported that the individual almost certainly had far right motivations for conducting the attack.

 

DEMONSTRATIONS

 

Protests occur annually in Munich during the MSC. In the early 2000s, the MSC meeting drew a significant anti-war protest crowd that tended to be vocal and, at times, violent. Since 2009, protest intensity has abated considerably. Although there is potential for unscheduled demonstrations to occur, protests associated with the MSC in recent years have been registered with police, largely peaceful, and manageable from a law enforcement perspective. Overall, however, there is an increase in the targeting of law enforcement / emergency responders by young people. On several occasions, emergency responders have been verbally and physically harassed by onlookers when responding to requests for medical services in public areas. When law enforcement responds to the incident, the aggressors turn their attacks to the police, in order to film the police response and post the encounters on social media. This is a relatively new phenomena in Munich, though it is gaining momentum. Any presence of radical elements during demonstrations increases the risk for potential confrontation between protesters and police.

 

While the risk of violent crime and violent protests is generally low throughout Germany, the activities of certain extremist, anti-establishment groups may occasionally manifest in violent incidents. Actions of such groups have included graffiti/building defacement, arson, and attacks with rudimentary explosives.

 

On February 14 and 15, there are two well-publicized rallies that are expected to take place. The first will begin at 6:30pm on February 14 at Gärtnerplatz. The demonstration will move from Gärtnerplatz via Reichenbachstraße - Frauenstraße - Tal - Marienplatz - Rindermarkt - Oberanger - Sendlinger-Tor-Platz - Sonnenstraße - Schwanthalerstraße - Paul-Heyse-Straße - Bayerstraße - Bahnhofsplatz - Luisenstraße - Elisenstraße - Lenbachplatz to Karlsplatz / Stachus (Please see below map for the protest path). The demonstration is scheduled to end at 9:15pm with the final rally.