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Sliding towards terrorism

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Sliding towards terrorism
Photo: DPA
13:18 CEST+02:00
The leftist extremists claiming responsibility for arson attacks on Germany's rail system this week said they do not want to hurt anyone, but it's only a matter of time until they do, comments Gerd Nowakowski from Der Tagesspiegel.

“Decelerating the capital” – that's one way of putting it. But all the people in Berlin who struggled with train delays on Tuesday, or those unable to get to Hamburg on Monday, would probably consider it an act of terror.

Germany's capital narrowly escaped a public transport collapse because it was only the incendiary device on a cable shaft on the route to Hamburg that went set off, while the explosive device in the city's main train station itself failed to ignite.

“We have switched a small part of the metropolis to standby-mode,” the group Hekla said cynically in an email claiming responsibility for the attacks. But the group's bombastic political prose won't give these actions relevance.

This time, the ten-year anniversary of the start of the Afghanistan war was used to justify the attacks. At the same time, the group was protesting against child poverty in Berlin, state benefit cuts, and rape - whatever happens to be the complaint of the day.

This is not the first time that we've seen how vulnerable Germany's highly technological society is, and how quickly our complex day-to-day routine can be disrupted. We know there can be no 100-percent protection in a country that considers itself a free democracy and not a police state.

But at the same time, we clearly need better prevention measures. We've now learned that Deutsche Bahn is only partially equipped to secure Germany's rail system critical infrastructure, and that there are not enough back-up systems to prevent central signal points from being disabled.

We can expect further attacks on the infrastructure in Berlin, where violent elements in the leftist scene are becoming more and more radicalized. They are no longer discussing whether violence is justified, but how to cope with the threat posed to human life.

In a massive overestimation of their own abilities, the group says this was “prevented to the best of our ability.” But as thorough as this email purports to be, its authors are clearly completely detached from the debates on the established political left. The socialist Left party, and still less the environmentalist Greens, mean nothing to these activists.

Some leftists have recently condemned the ongoing spate of arson attacks on cars in Berlin, because they are not just targeting the luxury cars, but the Opels of hard-working Berliners. But clearly some elements of the scene is sliding inexorably towards terrorism. They want to make Germany a better place – just as the Baader-Meinhof gang did in the old days.

This commentary was published with the kind permission of Berlin newspaper Der Tagesspiegel, where it originally appeared in German. Translation by The Local.

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