German Interior Minister De Maizière warns of imminent terror attacks

17-20 November 2010

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière on Wednesday warned the government had indications Islamists were planning terrorist attacks in Germany later this month.
“There is information from our foreign partners that planned attacks are allegedly to be carried out at the end of November,” he said in Berlin, describing a “new situation” regarding the Islamist threat towards the nation. “There’s reason to be worried, but no reason for hysteria,” he said, mentioning “concrete leads” being followed by the authorities.
Only last month, de Maizière criticized reports Islamists were planning imminent attacks in Germany as “alarmist” and said there was no reason to change the country’s security threat level. But the minister said on Wednesday security services had noticed growing signs that the terrorist network al-Qaida was planning attacks in the United States, Europe and Germany since mid-2010.
On Saturday, reports started warning of attacks on the Reichstag, the building of the German Parliament. German security authorities had received information from an extremist who has been phoning the federal criminal police (BKA) over the last few days. He supposedly wants to defect, and is therefore offering information about his jihadist colleagues’ plans.

US interest in Dutch anti-terrorism measures

During a visit to America, Dutch Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin met with Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to discuss the ways the Netherlands deals with ‘local terrorists’, such as Mohammed Bouyeri. Trouw reports that the American were particularly interested in the ways national security services in the Netherlands work.

Profile: Dutch conversion to Islam

Radio Netherlands Worldwide runs an article this week exploring conversion to Islam in the Netherlands. The article profiles a couple in Rotterdam who converted to Islam over a decade ago. Defending their “beautiful belief”, the couple notes that their conversion to Islam makes some people frightened or anxious, which they attribute to a lack of information. “Here in the Netherlands we just don’t know the simple basics about Islam. That’s also true within the government and the police and security services. I think that’s so sad. That’s how you make people afraid”.

Human rights concerns kept MI5 from passing on information about Abdulmutallab

MI5 failed to alert US intelligence about the extremist links of the Detroit plane bomber because of concerns about breaching his human rights and privacy. The spy agency withheld its files on Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab from Washington until after the near-catastrophic Christmas Day attack because of guidance from its legal department.

Asked why the information had not been passed to the US, a Home Office official said the security service did not pass information to its allies about the thousands of Britons who were merely suspected of having radical Islamic views. It did so only after it classified individuals as progressing into the much smaller category of “violent extremists”, a term used by MI5 to define potential or actual terrorists.

London remembers 7/7 victims

London marked the third anniversary on Monday of the suicide bombings on the city’s transport network, with ceremonies at blast sites as survivors and the victims’ families remembered the deadly attacks. A total of 56 people were killed, the four bombers included, in the July 7 2005 blasts that tore through three London Underground trains and a bus at the height of the morning rush hour. London Mayor Boris Johnson, the government’s London minister Tessa Jowell and transport chiefs were among those who laid flowers outside King’s Cross railway station at 07:50 GMT. Johnson’s tribute on his wreath read: “We honour the memory of those who died on 7/7 2005, we salute the courage of those who were injured and our thoughts and prayers are with all victims and their families.” The event was exactly three years on from when three bombs ripped through the Tube trains at the height of the morning rush hour. Survivors and families of the 52 victims visited the three Underground stations – Russell Square, Aldgate and Edgware Road – where the bombs went off, and Tavistock Square, where another home-made bomb later wrecked a double-decker bus. Waiting for compensation payments. Compared to the first anniversary in 2006, subsequent anniversaries of the attacks have been low-key. Twelve months after the bombings, there was a national two-minute silence and a day-long memorial programme. Dozens of the victims’ families and some of the 700 who were injured are still waiting for compensation payments. The attacks, perpetrated by four British Muslims, threw the spotlight on the threat from homegrown extremism, and the extent of opposition to Britain’s foreign policy in Iraq and Afghanistan among the country’s 1.6-million-strong Muslim community. Three years on, Britain is still facing a “severe” threat from terrorism – the highest level – according to the security services, with increasingly frequent arrests of suspects under anti-terrorism legislation. Last year, Jonathan Evans, the head of the domestic intelligence service MI5, said the number of people with suspected links to extremists in Britain had risen from 1 600 in 2006 to at least 2 000. The government is currently pushing through parliament proposals to increase the pre-charge detention limits for suspected extremists from the current 28 days to 42 days, despite widespread outrage from civil liberties groups.

Germany: Threat of Islamic terrorism ‘consistently high’, says report

The threat of Islamic terrorism in Germany remained high in 2007, according to an annual report by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution. The report said Islamic militants are increasingly setting their sights on Germany and view the country as an “operational area” and that Islamists regard Germany as a “crusader” and as an ally of the United States and Israel. American, Israeli and British institutions were at high risk, said the report, as well as Russian targets, due to the ongoing conflict in Chechnya. As an example, the report mentioned the arrests of militants on 4 September 2007, when three individuals allegedly planned attacks on American institutions in Germany and were caught with bomb-making material. By the end of 2007 there were 30 nationwide active Islamist organisations said the report, an increase of two from the previous year. Among them, 1,390 active followers of the Muslim Brotherhood, and about 900 followers of Lebanese Shia radical group Hezbollah. The report mentions Chechen militants but it said their followers in Germany have so far done it without violence. Meanwhile, Wolfgang Schaeuble, Germany’s minister of the interior and a member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) said that Germany escaped terrorist attacks because of preventive measures taken by the security services. The report included right and left wing extremism, extremism by foreigners, the Scientology organisation, and Islamism.

Alleged Moroccan extremist was a spy

Abdelkader Belliraj, the alleged leader of a Moroccan extremist group and suspect of several murders in Belgium, was revealed to be a paid informant for the Belgian security services. Belliraj was revealed to be an informant for Belgian authorities, for up to eight years; Belgian authorities were apparently unaware of his other activities during his time as an informant. While a spokesman for Belgium’s justice ministry refused to confirm or deny the reports, the ministry said a statement may be released concerning the news.

Anti-Terror Bill is ‘Anti-Muslim’

An assessment published along with the Government’s revised Counter Terrorism Bill charged it as “anti-Muslim” yesterday as Prime Minister Gordon Brown pushes to controversially extend the detention period to 42-days without trial. Despite a torrent of criticism from opposition MPs and civil liberties groups including the possibility of a humiliating first Commons defeat for Brown, the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith resorted to scaremongering in an attempt to bolster support by warning of “mass casualties” from a future terror attack. But the Home Office’s official assessment admitted that there existed “strong concerns” that the legislation is “anti-Muslim”. Although the Home Office was told to do more to win the “hearts and minds”, the consultation conceded that the bill risked alienating Muslims. “Muslim community representatives expressed a concern that this may lead to increased reluctance among their communities to provide vital co-operation and assistance to the police and security services,” the equality impact assessment on the Bill said. Hamza Bajwa reports.

Interior Minister: Islamists Seeking German Converts For Attacks

German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has warned that militant groups are deliberately trying to recruit converts to Islam to carry out attacks because are less likely to raise suspicion. “We have information from the Islamic terrorism network that they are actively seeking to recruit converts for their own terrorist aims,” Schaeuble told AFP in an interview Thursday. “The reason for this is obvious – they think that they will be less likely to attract the unwelcome attention of the security services,” he said.

Poll: One of four UK Muslims say 7/7 bombs staged

A quarter of Britain’s two million Muslims believe UK Government agents staged the July 7 suicide bombings, a new survey has found. They think the four men named as the killers of 52 passengers on the London transport system were not responsible for the attacks. The poll, for the commercial TV station “Channel 4”, late last night, discovered that conspiracy theories about July 7 are rife among Muslims, similar to those about the 9/11 attacks in the United States. This came on the day British Prime Minister Tony Blair attended a conference on Islam and insisted Muslims “overwhelmingly” wanted to be “loyal citizens”, despite the “disproportionate” public attention given to “small, groups” of radicals. However according to last night’s poll, a significant proportion, six-out-of-ten British Muslims, say the Government has not told the whole truth about the 2005 bombings. More than half of the 500 Muslims polled also felt the security services had made up evidence to convict terror suspects.