With Germany going to the polls in a general election in three months, authorities are on high alert after detecting an increase in online warnings of terrorist attacks targeting the country.
The German government held high-level talks with top security and intelligence chiefs in Berlin on Thursday to discuss the growing threat posed by Islamic extremists, and to coordinate counter-terrorism measures. Intelligence officials are alarmed by the rising number of videos posted online by militant Islamists who say they are specifically targeting Germany. Up to 13 videos are reported to have appeared on the web since January, and many of them refer to the deployment of German troops in Afghanistan. “We’re not just concerned about the video messages,” Deputy Interior Minister August Hanning told reporters after Thursday’s meeting. “They’re part of a wider strategy to take action against Germany.” He stressed that the authorities are taking the video threats seriously. “Germany and German citizens have for some time been a special focus for Islamist terrorists,” he said. “We have to prepare for the fact there could be attacks against German installations abroad or here in Germany.”
According to authorities, recent intelligence shows a growing number of Islamic extremists leaving Germany to receive terrorism training at camps in Pakistan. Meanwhile, other reports have Islamic extremists setting off from Pakistan to carry out deadly attacks in Europe and possibly Germany. According to a report on the German public television channel ZDF, intelligence officials received a tip-off in May that an al-Qaeda commando had left Pakistan to launch terror attacks in Western Europe. The commando is reported to be made up of 15 men — including Americans, Arabs, Chechens and four Germans — under the alleged leadership of al-Qaeda operatives Abu Abdul Rahman al-Najdi, who was born in Saudi Arabia, and the Californian convert to Islam Adam Yahiye Gadahn, who’s on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list. But intelligence officials don’t appear to know the current whereabouts of the al-Qaeda-led commando. Tristana Moore reports.