Thursday, August 24, 2006

Germany No Longer Considered Safe

Germans, Spared Until Now, Awaken to Reality of Terror Threat Aug. 25 (Bloomberg) -- Germans are beginning to awaken to a new reality: Their country is no longer one of the apparently safe havens in the post-Sept. 11 world. ``It's never really bothered me what people next to me in the train are doing,'' said Juergen Darsch, 36, a graphic artist, at Berlin's Friedrichstrasse rail station. But ever since a Lebanese student was arrested Aug. 19 on suspicion of helping plant bombs on German trains, ``you look around more carefully. That's something I really don't want to live with.'' Police arrested the student, identified only as 21-year-old Youssef Mohamad E. H., after the discovery of bombs placed inside suitcases on two trains in western Germany that they say would have killed a ``large number'' of people. A second suspect, Jihad H., also Lebanese, turned himself in to police in Tripoli, Lebanon, yesterday. Germany, under then-Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, refused to join the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and had been spared the sort of fear engendered by attacks carried out by Islamic terrorists in London, Madrid, Istanbul and Mumbai. Now the public is confronted with stepped-up security checks at train stations and travel delays as suspicious suitcases are cleared away, with the promise of more measures to come. While the bombers failed to blow up the trains, they managed to ``blow away any lingering illusions that Germany is an island not on terrorists' maps,'' Margret Johannsen, a senior research fellow at Hamburg University's Institute for Peace and Security Policy, said in a telephone interview. No Shield ``Non-participation in the Iraq war was never a shield against terror,'' she said. ``Germany is as vulnerable as the next country. We need to wake up and make a political contribution in the war on terror.'' Read the rest here. H/T: LGF