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Düsseldorf terror plot uncovered via passenger data from US

The Local · 6 May 2011, 09:30

Published: 06 May 2011 09:30 GMT+02:00

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“From the American side, we were advised of the striking and unusual travel patterns of the suspects," German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich told the newspaper.

The case shows that the German authorities can successfully counteract terrorist cells, “especially through intensive cooperation with our friends and partners,” Friedrich said.

Police in in North Rhine-Westphalia late last month arrested three men amid suspicions they were plotting a deadly shrapnel bomb attack.

Authorities say the men aged between 19 and 31 were experimenting with explosives and had been discussed bombing a bus stop or bus, but did not yet have specific targets. They allegedly received direction from an unnamed al-Qaida leader.

The collection and sharing of airline passenger data between Europe and the United States has been highly controversial in recent years.

Story continues below…

Although there is broad consensus that at least some data should be collected by governments on passengers who fly out of the European Union, debate is still raging over whether intra-EU flights should be subject to broader data collection.

The Local/mdm

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

10:32 May 6, 2011 by wood artist
The problem is always the same:

If we have the data "available" and don't use it, when something bad happens, people want to point fingers because "they didn't connect the dots."

If we don't collect the data, and something bad happens, "they didn't do a proper job of protecting us."

The balance between collecting and using data while maintaining individual privacy always shifts with the winds. Every day it could be "too much" or "not enough" and there's simply no way to make a perfect decision.

10:55 May 6, 2011 by raandy
Whats the big deal about collecting and sharing data about travelers.It has value as seen in this case. If your a normal business or recreational traveler and you are not involved with criminal or terror activities than you have nothing to hide.
11:29 May 6, 2011 by GolfAlphaYankee
the "if you don´t have any thing to hide, you should not be concerned" argument is a bit naive.

as the no flay list example shows. people are in that list for the silliest reasons. and there is simply no way to appeal or tray to clear your name. now one can say that is a small price to pay for saving potentially a lot of human lives , but how can we prevent this from becoming a systematic discrimination or racial profiling?

any given power should come with check and balances otherwise we will drift to misuse or worse .... it´ s a slippery slope.
12:51 May 6, 2011 by danceswithgoats
"Although there is broad consensus that at least some data should be collected by governments on passengers who fly out of the European Union, debate is still raging over whether intra-EU flights should be subject to broader data collection."

And now you know why it is done. The second part of this sentence is ludicrious.
14:26 May 6, 2011 by tallady
GolfAlphaYankee . maybe we should tear the list up and fly by the seat of our pants.
15:15 May 6, 2011 by Katzerina
I actually don't have a problem with the sharing of travel/airline passenger data. No one is coerced into flying anywhere...

Racial profiling is a red herring, this idea that investigators should be hampered by not looking for suspects based on race is ridiculous. If we knew a blonde swede had a vendetta against a specific airline.... would we expect the authorities to start looking at Asians and Africans, all in the name of political correctness?

Profiling has always been used, and usually quite successfully. Of course there will be people who have the same name or seem to fit the "profile" unjustly questioned. This happens in any type of investigation. Please, some sanity is needed.
16:12 May 6, 2011 by TRJ
I agree with Katzerina- I am okay with profiling provided it is connected to a reasonably perceived threat.

I travel extensively for my work and usually have 4 sets of take-offs and landings per week (God help me if the number of take-offs ever fails to correspond to the number of landings). Shortly after 9/11 I had a hot streak of about 12 trips in a row where I was selected for special screening/questioning. As a traveler, I LOVED this because it meant no waiting in the security lines (I was pulled from the line). I suppose the downside is that security was convinced that a blonde hair/blue eyed male of average build in his 30's was a threat.

As a reasonable traveler, I happily accepted the scrutiny. And anyone assuming that security picks on only those appearing to be Muslim is simply someone who does not travel often enough to know what they are talking about.
16:47 May 6, 2011 by onemark
No. 1:

We all have something to hide, namely our privacy. When was the last time anybody reading this column took a dump or had sex for all the world to see?

No. 2:

And how many Americans preaching the "nothing to hide, nothing to worry about" gospel support the Real ID (national ID card) proposal in the US - with fingerprints and everything else? Not all of them, I'll bet.
17:00 May 6, 2011 by GolfAlphaYankee
you know what, lets create a separate line in airports just for people from the Mideast or Pakistan where they will be strip searched and questioned. hell ! why stop there lets deny them the possibility to fly altogether...after all, you never know ! then we will be all safer and we can have much relaxed airport security. but the next time the sort of Jihad Jane (google that !) strike we should not be surprised !

targeting people just because of there race/origin is both morally wrong and ineffective. and it play directly into the extremists message : the west is in war against a hole religion

@TRJ I know that all sort of people are picked up by security agents for enhanced screening(that´s good). but there is a talk (specially among Republicans in the US) of just adopting racial profiling as way to speed up the check up lines .....
19:03 May 6, 2011 by Englishted

"it play directly into the extremists message : the west is in war against a hole religion"

I'm not sure I know what you mean :

1 -against a "w" hole religion

2- against ars#hole religion.

I think part 2 is better.

Plus how about a thank you to the U.S. for giving the info.
19:15 May 6, 2011 by EastPrussia
@golfalphayankee - Not all republicans or conservatives are the devil, and certainly not all of them agree with racial profiling. It's a tough decision to balance the needs of a country and protect the privacy of its people. A very thin line exists between the two. Being on the far-left isn't the answer either. In my opinion,any reasonable profiling might help prevent an attack, which would result in something we all want - safety from terrorists.
20:42 May 6, 2011 by GolfAlphaYankee
@EastPrussia: did not mean to imply that all Republicans think that way. in fact some of my best friends are Republicans (LoL). but I agree that it s a fine line and I can't imagine myself being in the position of the politician who actually have to make that call...
21:55 May 6, 2011 by Badsis
Security is just that .. SECURITY. The people who administer it are doing their job, yes, jobs worth but doing their job, Positioning air crew in or out of uniform have to go through the checks as we all do. That is it, we all do! Who is to say what makes any of us more up for bigger scrutiny? It hacks me off big style but I can't help thinking, well that is what they are paid for. Yes I hate showing what is in my bag but I do because obviously there was something that caught their eye. So, it is not political it is just how it is?
22:47 May 6, 2011 by euskept
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
15:49 May 7, 2011 by Katzerina
So at the moment, at least here in the USA... the TSA is patting down four and five year olds while they are screaming. Does that make a lot of sense to anyone? All in the name of not profiling. I mean it could be anyone, right? Grandma in the wheelchair and the babies need to be treated as possible perps.

Political correctness, assumes EVERYONE is guilty.
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