Recent news amply demonstrates that all metropolitan areas of Western Europe are in jihadists’ crosshairs, but Germany is certainly high on the list of targets, with one imminent attack thwarted in September. Once again, however, authorities appear to view the potential of native German converts to Islam or other Muslims in Germany to become “radicalized” as dependent on the propaganda of al-Qaeda and its allies, as if that movement invented Islamic teachings on jihad, or distorted a “just war” concept that would be considered benign by Western standards. And, ignoring the broader ideological context and refusing to address its basis in Islamic texts and teachings leaves authorities open to being blindsided by an attack that may occur with little or no apparent link to the al-Qaeda brand name. And it will also leave them baffled with respect to public sympathy for al-Qaeda in the Muslim world, and Muslims who passively or actively enable the group’s operations, whether in Berlin or Quetta.
“Al-Qaeda has moved Germany up on hit list,” from Agence France Presse:
BERLIN – GERMANY has become a prime target for Al-Qaeda, whose commanders in Afghanistan and Pakistan have ordered terror attacks on the country, senior government officials said.
‘Germany is at the centre of Al-Qaeda’s attention and in their line of fire. The facts have changed since last year,’ interior ministry spokesman Stefan Paris told reporters on Friday, confirming a press report.
A state secretary in the interior ministry, Mr August Hanning, told Die Welt newspaper that Al-Qaeda leaders based in the border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan had ‘decided to carry out attacks in Germany’.
‘We are worried that we will not be able to foil every plot,’ he added.
Die Welt said Germany’s domestic intelligence agency and police had established that Germany’s six-year-old military mission in Afghanistan had prompted Al-Qaeda to move the country ‘much higher’ on its list of targets.
Mr Hanning linked the ‘high risk’ to the volatile situation in southern Afghanistan, saying Al-Qaeda’s ‘operational capacity’ in the region had recovered.
In September, two German converts to Islam and a Turkish man were arrested in the western Sauerland region on suspicion of planning to blow up United States installations in Germany, including the south-western US military airbase at Ramstein.
The men had stockpiled some 700 kilogrammes of chemicals to use in ‘massive’ attacks to coincide with the anniversary of the Sept 11, 2001 suicide hijackings in the United States, the security services said.
The plotters are believed to belong to the Islamic Jihad Union, a group with links to Al-Qaeda.
The deputy chief of the federal police, Mr Bernhard Falk, told Die Welt there were clear indications that Al-Qaeda had ordered other attacks and that its cadres were preparing to strike.
‘There is a high probability that besides the Sauerland plot, several other operations have been planned,’ he said.
Germans in Afghanistan, often young men of Turkish origin or German converts to Islam, were recruited to become ‘holy warriors’ and sent back to Germany to carry out attacks, he said.
Al-Qaeda was increasingly and successfully recruiting Germans via the Internet, he added. The group posted propaganda in German and had set up ‘virtual terror training camps’ for supporters.
Die Welt quoted officials as saying that the security services are investigating charges against 184 suspected Islamist extremists in Germany and that 70 were deemed so dangerous that they were under constant surveillance.