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08 Feb 2008 12:27
German authorities have learnt that al-Qaeda is preparing to carry out attacks in Germany, a senior official said in an interview with Die Welt newspaper on Friday.
The Secretary of State in the Interior Ministry, August Hanning, said al-Qaeda leaders based in the border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan have “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 the federal intelligence agency and police have established that Germany’s military mission in Afghanistan prompted al-Qaeda to move the country “much higher” on its list of targets.
In September 2007, two German converts to Islam and a Turkish man were arrested in the western Sauerland region on suspicion of planning to blow up United Sates installations in Germany, including the south-western US military airbase at Ramstein.
The men had stockpiled about 700kg of chemicals to use in “massive” attacks to coincide with the anniversary of the September 11 2001 attacks in the US, the security services said.
The plotters are believed to belong to the Islamic Jihad Union, a group with links to al-Qaeda.
The deputy president of the federal police, Bernhard Falk, said 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.
Hannig linked the “high risk” to the volatile situation in southern Afghanistan, saying al-Qaeda’s “operational capacity” in the region had recovered.
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.
Germany has 3 200 soldiers stationed in Kabul and northern Afghanistan as part of the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force but has rejected calls by its allies to deploy men in the south to fight a Taliban insurgency.—AFP
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