Although praise for the United States occurs very seldom in anti-American Western Europe, it was different in Germany last week. Unreported by most media outlets, the largest potential terrorist attack on German soil since the Second World War that saw three men arrested, two of them German converts to Islam, was thwarted with considerable American help.
As it turns out, according to a report in the German magazine, Der Spiegel, CIA officials had been working in close co-operation with German intelligence on this case for months, right up until the arrest of three suspects last week in an inconspicuous village in the state of North Rhineland-Westphalia. A joint team of American and German investigators had already been working in Berlin for some time on “Operation Alberich”, the name of a king in German mythology given to the project. US Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, told Der Spiegel that the cooperation between the two countries’ intelligence services was never closer than during this investigation.
The terrorist cell broken up last week apparently appeared on German intelligence agencies’ radar screens for the first time last fall after a warning from their US counterparts. American authorities alerted the Germans that the Islamic Jihad Union, an extremist, Uzbekistani outfit with ties to al Qaeda and to which these particular terrorists belonged, was setting up a network in their country. It is known that the IJU’s German members arrested last week had trained at terrorist camps in Pakistan in 2006 where they most likely came to the attention of the American security officials stationed there.
In Afghanistan and Pakistan, America maintains a large, clandestine intelligence-gathering effort that has already resulted in several significant victories, as already reported in FPM (http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Read.aspx?GUID=2E7A4B89-D83F-4B1C-BA51-78E72EFD3AB6). FBI teams in Pakistan have built up a network of informers, including members of Pakistan’s military and intelligence services, which pass on information for money and, according to one Pakistani writer, even for trips to the United States.
This same writer states that this German cell had probably trained in the camp of al Qaeda commander Abu Hanifah, who trains Turks, Bosnians and Kurds in the lovely Islamist art of blowing up their fellow human beings. Another commander trains Chinese Muslim terrorists and Pakistanis, while still another looks after the homicidal needs of Uzbeks and Tajiks. One of the three suspects arrested last week is a German-Turk, while other Turks are being sought in this case.
It is also now known the cell returned to Germany with a “clear assignment.” Its German leader was even in contact with someone in Pakistan at the end of August who urged the carrying out of his murderous mission within the next fourteen days. And probably due to al-Qaeda’s apparent involvement, Americans were the plot’s main targets and not Germans. Besides American military installations and the Frankfurt airport, the terrorists, in their mindless hatred, were considering attacking discotheques, schools (think of Beslan), bars, or anywhere their sick minds considered there would be American citizens.
According to the Spiegel report, the tracking of the terrorists became an important theme in German-American relations over the past months, most likely because of this Islamist targeting of Americans and their desire to “kill as many people as possible” with bombs a hundred times more powerful than the backpack explosives used in the 2005 London transit bombings. Operation Alberich was considered so important that it was one of the topics of conversation between President George Bush and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the G8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, last June. President Bush was also immediately informed of last week’s terrorist arrests.
The only unfortunate part of the whole affair is that only three of the 49 Islamists that German Federal Intelligence Service chief Jorg Ziercke believes are involved in the plot are in custody where they are remaining silent. The German newspaper, Die Welt, reported Ziercke’s statement regarding the plot’s size as well as the fact that the cell consisted of a solid core of ten terrorists, of whom two are still in Germany but cannot yet be arrested due to a lack of evidence.
But perhaps just as alarming as this large number of potential mass murderers still on the loose and dedicated to killing Americans is the fact that seven persons from German Islamist circles have been arrested in Pakistan over the past months and an additional six are known to be currently in that country. And if such is truly the case, then one can probably expect a lot more friendly words to come America’s way from Western Europe yet.