The Terrorist Threat in Germany and Its Link with the post-Soviet Space

Cologne and the terrorist threat
The city centre of Cologne in Germany where the terrorist suspects were planning to organise violent attacks (Credits: Thomas Wolf,, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE, via Wikimedia Commons)

Geopolitical Report ISSN 2785-2598 Volume 38 Issue 4

Terrorists affiliated with the Islamic State might exploit the Ukrainian refugee crisis to infiltrate Germany and the European Union, posing a significant threat to national security. German security officials have reported an increase in individuals from Central Asia, particularly Tajikistan, masquerading as Ukrainian refugees, utilising false documents and fictitious narratives to evade stringent checks.

Key Findings

  1. Islamic State operatives are using the “Ukrainian route” to enter Germany, exploiting the ongoing conflict in Ukraine to get weapons and explosives.
  2. The threat of infiltration has remained persistent since 2017, coinciding with the establishment of a visa-free regime between the European Union and Ukraine.
  3. The current conflict and crisis in Ukraine allow foreigners to obtain Ukrainian passports, facilitating their entry into the European Union.

Terrorist Suspects in Germany:
Background Information

In late December, German police in Cologne detained a 30-year-old Tajik national, identified as Muhammadrajab B., suspected of planning a terrorist attack on Cologne Cathedral. Authorities revealed he will be deported to Austria, where he is wanted for allegedly plotting an attack on St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the Prater Park in Vienna.

The arrest followed the apprehension of five individuals in the town of Wesel, including a 25-year-old Tajik resident of Norvenich. Muhammadrajab B. is believed to have ties to the Islamic State Khorasan Vilayat (ISKP).

Additionally, a 41-year-old German-Turkish dual citizen was arrested in Bochum on December 31st, 2023, linked to the same plot. Three men of Tajik and Uzbek origin, initially detained in Bochum, were later released on court orders. Reports suggested a car was intended for an attack near the Cologne Cathedral. The case also involves a Central Asian man, Murat Tashbekovich I., arrested in Austria, suspected of collaborating in the plot and having met with Muhammadrajab B. in Germany in late November.

German media also reported that some of these suspected people reached Europe from Ukraine conflict zones.


The Ukrainian conflict has served as a breeding ground for various extremist groups, including the Islamic State, collaborating with Western contractors and ideological neo-Nazis. Kyiv’s establishment of the International Legion to fight against Russian armed forces has created the opportunity for foreign fighters and Islamist to enter Ukraine.

Amidst the onset of the Ukraine conflict, jihadist propaganda incentivised Islamists to enlist in the International Legion, seeking to acquire military expertise, acquire weapons, and strategically establish a foothold on the ground to leverage the Ukrainian territory as a pivotal ‘bridge’ towards Europe.

The presence of volunteer battalions, particularly those hailing from the post-Soviet region, might serve as a fertile ground for potential jihadist infiltration into Ukraine. Some members of these battalions have openly expressed their ideological motivations on social media platforms, articulating their commitment to fight ‘in the name of Allah’ initially against the Russian Federation and subsequently for the independence of their respective homelands from Moscow.

Alarming evidence suggests connections between certain volunteer battalions and established terrorist groups, exemplified by the case of Ajnad al-Kavkaz. In January 2023, the former leader, Rustam Azhiev, known by the nom de guerre Abdul Hakim al-Shishani, held a meeting with representatives of the Chechen Shaykh Mansur Battalion in Kiev, aligning with them in their shared fight against Russia.

In a significant development in July 2023, a security forces operation in Germany exposed a suspected jihadist cell that had entered Europe from Ukraine. Comprising seven individuals from Central Asia, this cell had intentions to establish a terrorist organization and orchestrate attacks.

The arrests of terrorist suspects during the last days, accused of planning attacks in Cologne and Vienna, underscore the tangible threat emanating from radicalised individuals originating from the post-Soviet space who exploit Ukraine as a strategic ‘bridge’ to gain access to Europe.

Risk Assessment

The country’s risk in Germany, and in general in the entire European Union, is heightened because of the influx of IS-affiliated terrorists exploiting the refugee crisis. The regional risk is significant, given the possible ties between militants and Ukrainian conflict zones, allowing them access to weaponry and fostering radical ideologies.

Scenarios Analysis

  1. Enhanced Security Measures. Implementing rigorous security protocols and intelligence cooperation to detect and apprehend potential terrorists entering Germany.
  2. Diplomatic Pressure on Ukraine. Urging diplomatic efforts to address this problem in collaboration with the Ukrainian government and strengthen border controls to prevent the misuse of Ukrainian passports.
  3. Rising of Terrorist Threat. Because of the dearth of intelligence on numerous foreign volunteers engaged in the conflict in Ukraine and considering Europe’s position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, along with the complex sociopolitical dynamics in the Arab-Muslim world, the European Union is confronted with an escalating risk of terrorist attacks that could exacerbate regional instability.


Germany and the European Union must prioritise intelligence-sharing mechanisms, fortify border controls, and engage diplomatically with Ukraine to address corruption issues. Strengthening counterterrorism measures and international cooperation is imperative to mitigate the ongoing threat posed by the Islamic State operatives entering the country under the guise of Ukrainian refugees.

Given that certain volunteer battalions in Ukraine, associated with the post-Soviet space, have voiced discontent with Kyiv’s backing of Israel in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the potential escalation of tensions in the Middle East could cultivate a sense of distrust.

This disillusionment may lay the groundwork for the dissemination of jihadist propaganda among the foreign fighters presently stationed in Ukraine, thereby amplifying the geopolitical risk within Ukrainian territory and, consequently, heightening the potential risk for the European Union, especially if these volunteers possess Ukrainian passports, enabling unrestricted movement within EU territory.

For those with an interest in acquiring comprehensive insights into terrorist groups and activities in Eurasia, we encourage you to reach out to our team by sending an email to We are poised to facilitate an assessment of the opportunity for you to obtain a meticulously crafted and specialised report tailored to your intelligence needs.Inizio modulo

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