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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Germany on terror alert after pre-election threat

Al-Qaeda recently released a video specifically warning the country of attacks.

Sep 24, 2009 10:53 AM | By Sapa-AFP

German police went on a nationwide high alert today after warnings of possible extremist attacks ahead of this weekend's general election.

American-born al Qaeda militant Adam Gadahn appears in a still image from a video released September 22, 2009 by al-Qaeda's as-Sahab entitled, "The West ... and the Dark Tunnel" in this handout image provided by IntelCenter. REUTERS/IntelCenter/Handout (UNITED STATES POLITICS HEADSHOT CONFLICT) NO SALES. NO ARCHIVES. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. MANDATORY CREDIT. INTELCENTER BUG CANNOT BE CROPPED OR OBSTRUCTED. QUALITY FROM SOURCE
Photograph by: HO

Police with machine guns were out in force at airports and main train stations, while armoured vehicles were also visible on runways including at Frankfurt airport, one of Europe's busiest.

The US State Department on Wednesday warned Americans to be on the alert while travelling to Germany, saying that Al-Qaeda has recently released a video specifically warning the country of attacks.

Footage showed a man identified as Abu Talha the German, warning, in German, that if Angela Merkel is re-elected as chancellor on Sunday, "bitter times await the Germans," according to two intelligence monitoring services.

The Bild daily reported that the CIA had also privately warned Germany of the threat of extremists firing at passenger jets with surface-to-air missiles.

Germany, which has around 4,200 soldiers in Afghanistan, has never suffered an attack by Islamic extremists, but a number of suspected plots have been uncovered and there have been several other Internet warnings.

The closest Germany came to an attack was in July 2006, when suitcases containing homemade bombs were placed on two regional trains passing through Cologne's busy main train station. They failed to detonate.

The September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States were planned by an Al-Qaeda cell in the northern German city of Hamburg led by Mohammed Atta, the ringleader of the hijackers who carried out the attacks.

Sunday's election is expected to return Merkel to power, but it is unclear if she will be able to govern with her preferred partners in a centre-right election.

Source: Times Live

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