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Beheading al-Qaida: Is Germany safer?

David Wroe · 2 May 2011, 16:57

Published: 02 May 2011 16:57 GMT+02:00

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How does the death of Osama bin Laden affect the terrorism risk in the short and long term here in Germany?

In the medium and long term, there is basically no change. Osama bin Laden was not the military and operational leader for quite some time. The planned and scheduled operations will continue as set out by the military leadership.

The good news is that in the short term, we should not expect any particular attacks that have not been scheduled already, because in the western world, where homeland security has been improved quite dramatically, these improvements make it much harder to attack as a spontaneous reaction to these significant events.

So even if somebody did want to carry out reprisal attacks, they wouldn’t be able to do it?

They wouldn’t be able to do it here in Germany or the United States where those attacks take much more preparation. They will be able to do it in areas where they have more freedom to move and act spontaneously: Afghanistan, Pakistan, South Yemen and so on. These would be the natural positions to look.

What does the so-called Düsseldorf cell arrested on Friday, tell us about the current crop of al-Qaida-linked radicals here in Germany?

Al-Qaida and related groups within that network have already recruited many fighters and terrorists to attack many places, including Germany. They recruit, train and equip them, and then they plan for them to carry out these attacks and apparently this is an ongoing movement – more than the three that we just caught.

Apparently there is a much bigger cell working in Germany right now and we, the public, don’t know what they’re up to.

There were reports of seven other members of the cell still at large. Does that sound plausible to you?

That sounds very plausible in light of the preparation. You may recall there was an alert around Christmas and that referred to that particular group and we’ve just caught three of them. It’s much larger. They may regroup or already have different plans going on.

How relevant would Osama bin Laden have been to those sort of young radicals here in Germany? Was he an inspiration to them?

He is a source of inspiration and mobilisation to them. He was a kind of spiritual leader. He set the political and religious agenda. He came out with a total of 40 statements in the last 10 years or so, to mobilise these fighters and recruit new ones into the movement.

And that was primarily the role he played over the last five years or so.

So in a practical sense, his death should make a difference to these groups in terms of recruitment for example?

In terms of mobilisation and recruitment, this could make a difference. His death is certainly seen as a setback and a defeat. This obviously discourages.

On the other hand, in his last will, there is a passage that says, "Should I be killed by the Americans, I call upon the whole Muslim world to kill the American nation." So it could go both ways.

But as you said at the beginning, these groups in Germany for instance don’t have the capacity to mount a spontaneous attack.

Exactly. It will also depend on the reaction in the western world, which will be closely watched in the Muslim world. If we seem too triumphant, too joyful, that might help them with mobilisation.

It would be much better, having scored this success in the ongoing battle, to reach out to the Muslim world and show some efforts and policy of conciliation. If we do that, we may actually be at a turning point in the conflict.

So what’s the best case scenario?

The best case scenario is that (US President Barack) Obama and other world leaders to say, "Look, this was a battle of the generation of Osama bin Laden. We don’t have a conflict with the Muslim world. If we have a conflict we want to settle it on peaceful terms and continue with the operation.”

So how unhelpful are those images of cheering crowds outside the White House?

Those images are not helpful in the reconciliation effort but I assume they will be dying down fairly soon.

Are the German authorities actually doing a good job in preventing attacks?

Apparently. We can’t assess this fully because we can’t see the full range of planned attacks. We don’t know how many have been discovered.

They seem to have a 100 percent success rate.

So far, from what we know, sure. The problem with terrorist attacks is that things happen that we don’t know and we can’t assess. So far we’ve been largely successful. We also haven’t been the main target.

Has Germany become a bigger target in the past 10 years?

Story continues below…

If you look at the data on worldwide attacks, the main targets today are in Asia and the Middle East. This is where most of these attacks happen. It’s not here or the United States.

What do you think of reports that the Eurovision Song Contest could be a target?

Every major event with a big public participation televised by the media is a potential target. There will of course be security measures installed.

On the political debate, the conservative Christian Democrats and the liberal Free Democrats are at odds over tougher anti-terror legislation. Is it needed to prevent attacks?

The main story is not whether you have more legislation in place but whether you have that legislation implemented. The problem is always how good are the people in charge of administrating the laws given to them. It’s execution more than the legislation itself.

So Germany doesn’t need tougher laws at the moment?

No, not at all. I’m more on the Free Democrats' side on that. The laws aren’t the issue. It’s whether you have enough police capacity and secret services to carry it out.

And have they done that so far?

They have improved. They didn’t detect the people living in Hamburg who launched the September 11 attacks. That was the major failure. They would be more likely to detect that today.

David Wroe (david.wroe@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

18:12 May 2, 2011 by michael4096
One of the biggest complaints commonly occuring on these pages is that many ordinary muslims celebrated 9/11. That, say the posters, condems muslims - how can people celebrate death?

Sometimes calling for actions that will knowingly result in death is the only course. Maybe, sometimes, murder squads, as this was now acknowledged to be, are also correct. But, how can celebrating yet more people dying be right? We can all feel safer, ok; relief, sure; but, joyous?

At least the NY Post is honest: Vengence, At Last.

How biblical!
18:46 May 2, 2011 by Sastry.M
Probably others too celebrated 9/11 to a lesser and inconspicuous manner with the same direction of written script of other regions. But Germany for the present may feel assured with no direct involvement but sharing only fringe benefits in her fight against terrorism by recalling the general human nature expressed satirically by the famous humor humanist Wilhelm Busch consoling oneself as: Hoechst Fatal, aber nicht fuer mich! (Highly fatal, but not for me!)
19:01 May 2, 2011 by Beachrider
The Mayday reconciliation of OBL's crimes will go down in the same context as 911. Whether people take this crossroads to move on to more beneficial actions is yet to be seen.

It could lead to healing in the USA, which only indirectly affects Germany. That is where to look for notable progress now.

It could certainly drive us all apart. It would be wiser to use it to reknit relationships with the Eastern Hemisphere.

God Bless that...
19:02 May 2, 2011 by raandy
The Title,,Nobody is safer just another dirt bag of the grid is all it is . This is a war to the end ,chose your side. There is no neutral ground your only fooling yourself if you think so,as they say time will tell.
19:23 May 2, 2011 by Lachner
In my opinion, after 9/11 Osama Bin Laden become more an Islamic symbol of terrorism than a threat to western civilization. Nonetheless, it was very important to arrest or kill him in order to send a strong message to terrorist organizations and cells, that the western countries will not tolerate terrorism and that everyone will be hunted down and killed by means of all available military and intelligence forces available.

Are we currently safer? No, not really. The death of OBL will convert him into a martyr of Islamic terrorism and will just unleash of chain of further aggressions. There are many new terrorist cells and leaders that have taken over OBL's leadership in Israel, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq, that need to be hunted down as well. The west needs to destroy all those that are a threat to western civilization, the lives of innocent human beings and freedom of religion. Are we happy that OBL is dead? Damn right! Not only have people in the USA celebrated, but all around the World since this is a victory to the "good guys" of the World that believe in respect of human life, freedom of speech and religion, democracy and understanding among the World's cultures.

Way to go for the USA and all the men and women of the US Army that sacrificed their lives to make this happen!
19:32 May 2, 2011 by Englishted
Beheading al-Qaida: Is Germany safer?

I don't know about safer ,but my little part is happier.

Now how to deal with those pirates?
19:48 May 2, 2011 by wood artist
If someone were trying to plan a "big" event, they would have taken a shot at the Royal Wedding. The UK is clearly a target, largely due to their assistance in Iraq and in the continuing efforts in Afghanistan. The wedding was a security nightmare, but it came off without issues (so far as we know).

If the survivors really want a big play, it won't come for months unless it was already underway. These things can't be done quickly.

In short, beyond some "feelings of justice done" nothing has changed. There are still people who see terror as the way to proceed, even though it has repeatedly been demonstrated it doesn't work.

20:10 May 2, 2011 by Freeman
I have a bombed out apt in Berlin, Currently for viewing . Care to see? Thanks alot Landlord aka slumlord. Also I would not wait for Obama fallout . But rather deal with the wrongs in your lives now.
20:31 May 2, 2011 by wenddiver
God Bless the servicemen of the United States and the Allied Nations for this day. I can not help but think the girl who sold flowers, the hot dog lady, the magazine man, the sho shine man, the policemen, the Security guys, Fire Fighters and all the other victims of 911 sleep a little sounder today, know that this piece of cr@P is not out plotting the murder of other innocents.

Happy dead Osama Bin Laden Day, now back to the Cavemen of Afganistan who still have a bill to pay with the US & Allied Military and US Department of Justice
20:50 May 2, 2011 by FredFinger
Atta boy wendiver.
21:24 May 2, 2011 by whpmgr
I can't help feeling that there is another shoe to drop- Pakistan. Why isnt anyone asking why OBL lived so close to two major Military installations and the governmnet didnt notice a fairly newly built compound with 12-18 foot wals, multiple sub-sections, and high security? They knew he was there, they supported and kept him protected adn I truly doubt there were too many Pakistannis involved in any planning.

We ahve to ask ourselves, we are ginving money and aid/assistance to the Pakistanis, and they are harboring this fugitive. At some point legislatures are going to ask what is up with that.

Soak up your celebrations for OBL. I am glad he is dead, but most civilians will become complacent and think the war is over, and we will see that it may have just begun. Give fanatics a martyr, and it is amazing how much mental resolve they receive along with him.

We need to be all in or all out, we can't keep fighting this like it is a friendly dispute between old friends. Bombs, death, destruction until the bad guys surrender, then rebuild, make nice and wait for thenext conflict ....
21:26 May 2, 2011 by Zlik
And God Bless Those Navy Seals. Old but better qualified.
02:57 May 3, 2011 by stablemate
the world is a better place without this man........all our flags are flying in usa.......
02:59 May 3, 2011 by Katzerina
Navy Seals are THE elite fighting force and to be soundly commended. These are the guys who actually get water boarded as part of their military training. Something Holder stated was not in itself torture... only the "intent" made it so. The current reporting is that It's very possible that one of the three terrorists that was water boarded by the CIA ( and since the intent was to extract information...ergo.. that makes it torture lol) was the one who gave up the actual name of the courier.
08:26 May 3, 2011 by MaKo
Is it wrong of me to hope that the aforementioned Eurovision Song Contest will be preempted as a precautionary measure?
13:28 May 3, 2011 by Angry Ami
Yeah safer, safer than what?

the likelihood of someone being killed or injured in a terrorist attack in Germany are next to null, but the likelihood of someone being killed or injured by some young thugs on the prowl at night in the subway or on a dark street corner are nearly 90%, how about the German authorities start focusing a little more on that issue.
17:21 May 3, 2011 by michael4096
"the likelihood of someone being killed or injured by some young thugs on the prowl at night in the subway or on a dark street corner are nearly 90%"

Great statistic. I must have been attacked a thousand times and never noticed.
19:45 May 3, 2011 by vonkoenigsberg
HAHA michael. I know what you mean. I live next to Kreuzberg and never noticed these supposed attacks, even though I see "thugs" all the time. Actually what I do see more of than fake attacks are the POLICE in Berlin cleaning up these criminals. Give them the credit they deserve.
22:49 May 4, 2011 by Thorsten
Is Germany safe? What a useless question!

Nobody cares about terrorism, the media should stop reporting on this nonsense.

The real terror happens in Sudan, Nigeria, where 10.000 Christians get murdered by muslims, or Pakistan, where atheists get killed, ahmadi-mosques blown up or Saudi Arabia were women are terrorized to wear a burqa.

Terror against the west is such a non-issue. Nobody cares about it. However, if there is a terror attack, we should close down all mosques and ban Islam.
18:57 May 5, 2011 by Major B
So far, am pleased with the tenor of these comments.

Good points Thorsten
12:42 May 6, 2011 by Angry Ami
@michael4096 and vonkoenigsberg

Oh Kreuzberg is it, or nearby so nearby is Mitte and Neukölln, ok since you 2 guys feel so safe, then go out after midnite and wave your hitech handys in the air, I know a German guy who was @ Rathaus Steglitz who got jacked by 2 Turkrabs, and he'd just gotten off work, wasn't even past 20:00, big crowded station, very safe right, Not, but hey if you guys feel safe more power to you, my point was actually that people have less to fear from a jihad attack than from being mugged, but as usual on here things get taken out of context.
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