Germany carries out largest terrorism drill to date

To onlookers it appeared to be a terrifying scene. But luckily, the action at Cologne/Bonn airport was a terrorism drill, involving around 1000 police officers who created the emergency scenario.

Germany carries out largest terrorism drill to date
Officers during the terrorismtraining exercise at Cologne/Bonn Airport. Photo: DPA
A loud detonation shakes Terminal 1 of the Cologne/Bonn Airport, then shots are fired. What happened here on Tuesday night is fortunately only an exercise: several heavily armed terrorists shoot at travellers with assault rifles, people run screaming for their lives, injured and dead people lie bleeding on the ground. 
The first police officers arrive quickly, and within a few minutes the attackers are overwhelmed. “All perpetrators neutralized,” reports the trainer in his headset.
At the largest anti-terror exercise to date at a German airport, around 1000 police officers rehearsed the emergency. An Islamic-motivated terrorist attack is simulated, carried out by a group of militarily trained perpetrators with the aim of killing as many people as possible.
The exercise on Tuesday. Photo: DPA
According to the police, there are currently no concrete indications of attack plans, but such a scenario is conceivable at any time in view of the increased danger situation in Germany, and across Europe.
“It is important that we are as well prepared as possible in the event of an actual attack,” says Wolfgang Wurm, President of the Sankt Augustin Federal Police Headquarters.
The fictitious scenario was developed from the findings of the attacks in Belgium and France and is very realistic, says Wurm. None of the practicing policemen knows exactly what to expect.
There are many “normal” patrol officers who are on the move at the airport every day: In an emergency, they would be the first on the scene. But special units are also involved in training. Around 300 extras mimed injured, dead and panic-stricken travellers. Chaos was everywhere.
Although this is an exercise, experience has shown that the colleagues are very tense and fully present in the situation, stressed Wurm. “This is also an exceptional situation for experienced civil servants. They have several dead bodies around them – and if they're not careful, they can be the next dead themselves.”
The exercise will also test the interaction between the various authorities: State and federal police as well as customs are involved. “Only with such exercises can we check whether all the beautiful deployment concepts that we have written are also useful in practice,” says Deputy Police Commissioner Miriam Brauns.
German police regularly train for these kinds of situations, amid the rising terror situation. In March this year, dozens of police took part in a simulation in Frankfurter main station which involved explosions.
Wurm is satisfied after the first exercise block. “Although the colleagues registered the injured, they first clarified the situation before they were cared for. First you have to be sure that there are no more perpetrators lurking and start a second attack.”
Details of the exercise will be evaluated in the next few days. If mistakes were made during the test run, this is not bad, Brauns emphasizes. “On the contrary. We can learn from this and improve our processes.”

Member comments

  1. “According to the police, there are currently no concrete indications of attack plans, but such a scenario is conceivable at any time in view of the increased danger situation in Germany, and across Europe.”. Oh really? When, how and why, exactly, did the ‘increased danger’ happen? Who was chiefly to blame for it?

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Anti-Semitism ‘massive problem’ in Germany, says Jewish leader on terror attack anniversary

On the second anniversary of a far-right terror attack at a German synagogue, the German Jewish Council has warned that the government needs to make more efforts to stop the spread of anti-Semitism online.

Anti-Semitism 'massive problem' in Germany, says Jewish leader on terror attack anniversary
A star of David on the roof of the Halle synagogue. Photo: dpa-Zentralbild | Hendrik Schmidt

Two years after a terrorist attack in the east German town of Halle that left two people dead, Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews, said that more needed to be done in the fight against anti-Semitism and right-wing extremism.

“The spread and incitement of hate, for example in the form of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories via social media, is a massive problem,” Schuster told DPA.

On October 9th 2019, a heavily armed right-wing extremist called Stephan Balliet tried to enter the Halle city synagogue on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.

When he failed to do so, he shot a 40-year-old passerby. He later killed a 20-year-old man at a kebab shop. While trying to escape, the 28-year-old injured several people before he was caught by the police.

The city of Halle is commemorating the event on Saturday, with wreaths to be laid at the scene of the crime. Reiner Haseloff, state leader of Saxony-Anhalt, is expected to attend.

Balliet was sentenced to life in prison in 2020 by the Naumburg Higher Regional Court. His sentence will be followed by preventive detention.

Funs for synagogue security

While praising the German government for introducing a law that makes social media companies responsible for hateful content posted on their sites, Schuster said that the legislation needed to be extended to messenger services such as Telegram.

“We must do everything we can to ensure that the internet is not a lawless space,” he said.

According to Schuster, the German government reacted quickly after the Halle attack by providing money to improve security at Jewish institutions.

This was an important step, he said. “However, there is still much to be done at the political and social level to combat growing anti-Semitism.”

SEE ALSO: Four held over foiled ‘Islamist’ attack on German synagogue