Source: Reuters, By Dave Graham, 17/11/2010
BERLIN -Germany said on Wednesday it had firm evidence Islamist militants were planning attacks in the next two weeks and ordered increased security at potential targets including train stations and airports.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the information emerged following a spate of parcel bombs sent from Yemen to U.S. targets at the end of October, coinciding with parcel bombs sent by Greek militants to targets including Chancellor Angela Merkel.
"The security situation in Germany has become more serious," de Maiziere told a news conference. "We have concrete indications of a series of attacks planned for the end of November."
De Maiziere said "a tip from an international partner after the Yemen incident" warned of an attack planned later this month. German police investigations "in conjunction with people from the Islamic area confirm independently the persistent efforts of Islamic groups to carry out attacks in Germany."
As a result, German police had increased the level of alert at potential targets including transport hubs like airports and railway stations, he said.
"There are grounds for concern but not for hysteria," said the minister. "We won't be intimidated by international terror, neither in our way of life, nor our culture or freedom."
De Maiziere said the situation was comparable with the security alarm surrounding Germany's federal elections in 2009.
The minister, a senior figure in Merkel's centre-right government, had initially played down the threat last month when the United States and Britain issued warnings that Germany and France could be targeted by al Qaeda and allied militants.
But earlier this month he acknowledged there were "serious indications" of a threat to Europe and the United States.
Germany has long viewed itself as a potential target because it has 4,590 military personnel stationed in Afghanistan, the third largest contingent of the 150,000-strong international force fighting the Taliban-led insurgency.
The country has been largely spared terror attacks by Islamic militants, even though the leaders of the 9/11 attacks on the United States in 2001 were students based in Germany.