German official warns of increased terror threat in Europe
( dpa ) - A top German state official, Bavaria's Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann, warned Friday of an increased danger of terrorist attacks in Europe.
"The al-Qaeda messages of recent weeks speak a clear language," the minister told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa at the end of a visit in the United States.
Hermann met with US security officials to work out agreements on improved exchange of information. As home to the largest footprint of US military in Germany, Bavaria has a particularly large number of targets at risk, he said.
Hermann met with officials of the national police force, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); the CIA; the US State Department; and the Pentagon.
It became clear during the meetings, Hermann said, that the risks of attacks in Europe are currently higher than in the US.
"One must simply assume that there's a whole group of people in Europe who are prepared to carry out attacks," he said.
Earlier this month, Michael Chertoff, who heads the US Department of Homeland Security, applauded the work of US security organizations in protecting the US from another terrorist attack after 2001.
He said the work had frustrated Islamist terrorists who have been forced to turn to softer targets like Europe, like car thieves who must skip over well-alarmed vehicles..
"One of the reasons we're seeing more attacks in Europe is because they think it's easier," Chertoff said, citing attacks since 2004 in Madrid, London and Glasgow and disrupted plots in Denmark, Germany, Italy, France and Portugal.
The German official warned that many potential attackers live among normal German society, "among us," he said.
He urged vigilance and warned against the separate tracks of life and culture lived by many in Germany's large cities and urban areas.
"We cannot wish away that Muslims often keep a noticeable distance from our value system," Hermann said.