Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Germans Raise Terror Alert Warnings For Airports and Rail Systems

The German government has raised warnings for rail and air travel based on increased chatter about a possible attack through the end of the month.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the government felt compelled to issue a warning of a “new threat level” after receiving intelligence from an unnamed foreign partner and gathering evidence domestically from Islamist groups.

“There is cause for concern, but no cause for hysteria,” de Maiziere told reporters today in Berlin. He said the public will begin to see an increased security presence, though “there are a large number of measures they won’t be able to see.”

The warning follows a worldwide terror alert prompted last month after bombs were found in air-cargo shipments. One bomb, packed inside a printer cartridge, was timed to explode on a flight as it reached the U.S. East Coast. That bomb, which originated in Yemen and was discovered at the U.K.’s East Midlands airport on Oct. 29, had passed through Germany via Cologne/Bonn airport.

A second bomb was found in Dubai. Both were addressed to synagogues in Chicago.

De Maiziere said Germany received additional intelligence after the incident and compared the threat level to the weeks before September 2009 federal elections, when a series of video messages emerged on the Internet warning of terror attacks in Germany. German authorities attributed those threats to an al- Qaeda-inspired campaign that aimed to influence the election, which gave Chancellor Angela Merkel a second term.
As always, the public has to remain vigilant and if they see something out of the ordinary in transit hubs, they should say something to the authorities. If you see something, say something.

Some of this may be the result of ongoing investigations into the failed Yemeni bombing campaign to take down aircraft with cargo bombs. However, there is a concern that active terror cells are operating out of Hamburg Germany.
A group of jihadists from the German city of Hamburg was alleged to be at the heart of the purported plot, European intelligence officials said.

Western intelligence officials say they learned about the alleged plot after Ahmed Sidiqi, a German citizen of Afghan descent, was arrested in Afghanistan in July and taken to the U.S. air base at Bagram for questioning.

"You are aware that the federal security authorities have been presuming a stronger threat situation from international terror for a considerable time," de Maiziere said. "In spring 2009 and in the time thereafter, there were detailed indications of possible attacks in the U.S.A., in Europe and in Germany as well."
US Predator airstrikes continue to target al Qaeda and Taliban targets along the Afghan-Pakistani border, including a strike that killed 20, which included at least four al Qaeda members (foreign fighters).

Yet, there are more pressing concerns with Yemen being a terror haven. Anwar al Awlaki has been insistent on carrying on the jihad against the West and exhorting jihadis to engage in war against the US in particular. His latest videos epitomize his strategy of carrying out attacks by any means necessary. Awlaki's followers have been more active in carrying out attacks against the US than those directly linked to Osama bin Laden of late - the Fort Hood shooter, Times Square bomber, and several other plots were linked to Awlaki. It would seem that Awlaki's al Qaeda affiliate branch in Yemen is best positioned to carry out attacks to the US, and it continues to represent an ongoing threat to US security interests around the world.

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