According to the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), which coordinates state and nationwide police investigations in Germany, the attacks prevented since 2010 are linked to Islamic extremism.
At least five of the 13 incidents were planned to take place in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), the Rheinische Post reported Wednesday. These included a planned 2011 bomb attack and a firearm attack in the state capital of Düsseldorf by the so-called Düsseldorf Cell.
The figures also include the failed bomb attack at Bonn Central Station in 2012 and the thwarted attack on the chairman of the Pro NRW party (a far-right political party in NRW) as well as a case in Cologne last year.
Other planned attacks in Chemnitz, Ludwigshafen, Schwerin, Lower Saxony, Karlsruhe and in the Frankfurt area were also prevented. In addition, targeted attacks on Bundeswehr (army) soldiers in 2016 and 2017 were also foiled by authorities.
It came as police launched a nationwide operation on Wednesday morning, searching around 90 properties in nine federal states, DPA reported. The raids are in connection with organizations being suspected of financing the terrorist group Hamas.
The searches were taking place in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, Hamburg, Hesse, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Schleswig-Holstein.
Suspects being monitored
A group of six men from Tajikistan are currently at the top of the list of suspects being monitored by the security authorities, RP Online reported. They are part of the group of 11 who were arrested at the end of March as part of an anti-terror operation in North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Württemberg.
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They are being investigated on suspicion of preparation for a serious act of violence that would endanger the state. However, the authorities have so far lacked concrete evidence so the men are at large, but are being observed by officials.
According to the BKA, in addition to the prevented attacks, there have also been other anti-terror operations, but further information could not be disclosed for tactical reasons.
Terrorist threat remains high
More than two years after the attack by terrorist Anis Amri on the Berlin Christmas Market, which claimed the lives of 12 people, the terror threat in Germany remains high. According to security authorities, there is currently no concrete risk of an attack. But officials are prepared for any development.
“All our senses are sharpened,” a source told RP Online. “We have our eyes on the known dangers and we will intervene as soon as there are indications of an attack.”
Michael Mertens, NRW Chairman of the Police Union backed this view. “There is no reason for the all-clear,” he said. “On the contrary. attacks can come from all sides. Not only by Islamists, but also by left-wing autonomists and right-wing extremists, as has just happened in New Zealand,” said Mertens, in reference to the recent Christchurch tragedy.
The fact that 13 terrorist attacks have been prevented since 2010 is also due to good cooperation and communication between the different authorities involved. “This is the only way to strike at the right moment in the context of averting danger,” said Mertens.
Erich Rettinghaus, head of the German Police Union in NRW, pointed out the importance of foreign secret services in the fight against terrorism.
“It would not work without their support,” Rettinghaus said. He added that in particular the US as well as France plays a “central role for the German intelligence services in defending against terrorism”.