German authorities have arrested three suspects. Two are German citizens one is a resident from Turkey. All appear to be members of a group aligned with al Qaeda, the Islamic Jihad Union. The men were planning on hitting tourist targets as well as a U.S. military base in Ramstein.Eight suspects were arrested in Denmark as well. As the invetigation continues, more arrests are expected.
European politicians in Germany and elsewhere felt they could avoid terrorist attacks by appeasement. This was most visible when Spanish troops were withdrawn from Iraq after the Madrid terrorist attacks in 2004. In the U.K., many on the left hoped that their government would behave similarly after the 7/7 bombing (2005).
As this plot in Germany displays, Western nations are targets regardless of their role in Iraq, Palestine, or elsewhere in the Middle East. In fact, two out of three of the terrorists arrested in Germany were not even citizens of a Middle Eastern country.
These so-called “homegrown” terrorists are coming under increasing surveillance and radical mosques are facing increased public scrutiny. This is an incredibly positive development. For far too long, radical Islamists have been allowed to preach hate (including murder) in Mosques in the name of Allah, free speech, and religious diversity.
No more. Nicholas Sarkozy of France is calling for a federal registry of mosques, England, Germany, and Spain may not be too far behind.
The NYT reports:
Those arrested — two German citizens who had converted to Islam and a Turkish resident of Germany — were in the advanced stages of plotting bomb attacks that could have been deadlier than those that killed dozens in London and Madrid, the police and security officials said. At least five lesser figures are still being pursued, they said.
“They were planning massive attacks,” the German federal prosecutor, Monika Harms, said at a news conference, outlining an intensive six-month investigation. She said the suspects had amassed hydrogen peroxide, the main chemical in the explosives used in the London suicide bombings of July 2005.
For months, Germany has been warning of a likely terrorist attack, and the government has been contemplating tightening surveillance and enforcement tactics that are now looser than elsewhere in Europe, in part because of Germany’s troubled 20th-century history.
Although officials spoke with confidence of the attack’s imminence and seriousness, they did not make fully clear the basis of their assertions. Europe has been the site of a number of devastating terrorist plots, but some have turned out later to be less than met the eye when announced.
If the announced details hold up under scrutiny, it means that Germany, like Britain, has become a target for sophisticated homegrown terrorism, and the case will fan the debate over the balance between civil liberties and public security. Previous German plots have been far smaller, masterminded by foreigners, or focused outside of Germany, like the 9/11 attacks, which were hatched in Hamburg…
Ms. Harms also said that the two German converts had trained in terrorist camps in Pakistan and that the three suspects had about 1,500 pounds of hydrogen peroxide, which they were preparing to move by van when arrested in an out-of-the-way village in western Germany on Tuesday afternoon. Security authorities in Europe have warned for some years that radical converts could pose a keen risk since they blend in easily to mainstream society.
This is from AFP:
German police are looking for 10 accomplices of the three men arrested over a foiled Islamist plot to blow up airports and US installations in Germany, a senior official said on Thursday.
Deputy Interior Minister August Hanning told ARD television the police were searching for “the 10 people who were behind this” within Germany and abroad.
“Terrorist attacks need preparation. We are trying to identify all of those who were working in the shadows,” he said…
Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble described the men as “very dangerous terrorists” who are believed to be members of the Islamic Jihad Union, a group with links to Al-Qaeda, and underwent training in Pakistan.
Regarding the Denmark plot:
Danish authorities say they have foiled a planned terrorist bomb attack. Eight men suspected of having direct links with the Al Qaeda leadership have been arrested. The eight, aged mainly in their twenties, of Afghan, Somali, Pakistani and Turkish origin, had been under surveillance for some time. They were arrested when it was deemed enough evidence had been gathered against them, and because they were believed to have been working with unstable explosives in a dense residential area.
The head of the Danish Intelligence Service Jakob Scharf said: “We can describe these suspects as Islamist militants with international contacts, among them the leaders of Al Qaeda.”
11 locations were raided overnight. Last September Danish police arrested nine people after discovering chemical substances which could be used in bomb making. The court case starts tomorrow. There have also been a numbers of protests in Denmark by Muslims over cartoons featuring the prophet Mohammed in the press.