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I recently read that they only change the sheets in prison here ONCE A WEEK, too!

They should have called in the IMF -- getting near those planes these days is Mission Impossible. If you've never been to Frankfurt and seen the security perimeter set up around El Al airplanes, let me tell you, it's quite impressive. The area around each plane is cordoned off and manned by a squad of Bundespolizei with really nice MP5 machine guns and armored cars. Everything is double- and triple-checked. It probably wasn't too likely that such a plot would have succeeded, but you can bet it'll be even tougher the next time some idiot tries.

Good job on the intel. It does remind us, though, how many potential holes there are in security. It's only a matter of time, I suspect.

I am somewhat surprised that people take this newsstory at face value. A little bit more restraint in terms of judgement would be nice. I am not saying that these people did not have the intention of causing harm, I am just saying: "Not so fast!" We do not even know how serious or advanced the plan was.

Interestingly, I have talked with an American friend about this subject just yesterday. I told him that I was aware that there was a certain danger of terrorist attacks happening in Germany, but that I was not especially worried about it. After all I lived 15 min from the Capitol in Washington D.C. for half a year and hardly ever worried about terrorist attacks there.
Related to that is a fundamental issue about the danger posed by terrorist attacks. They work, because they scare the people who survive. The chance of getting hurt in such an attack are incredibly small, but people perceive it as a real danger. These attacks are not successful, because they do a lot of material damage neither in terms of life (with a few exceptions) nor in terms of fundamental damage to a society, but they can cause countries to overreact and do stupid things. Example: the invasion of Iraq.

Of course I know that the author of this blog is deeply worried about Arab terrorists. Frankly I am not. They only have as much power as we grant them. We should look out, we should investigate them, we should fight terrorism and especially islamist ideology, but I feel uncomfortable, when I read statements that advocate hysteria and alarmism. We are not "safe" from a terrorist attack - that is very true. However it is misleading to suggest - as the author of the original post does - that most people in Germany or even a large minority consider the danger of a terrorist attack to be non-existent.

Finally, I deplore the misleading comments in the "update". I do not think it is appropriate to suggest that authorities are somewhat lax in their approach to terrorism. This is simply not true and foreign readers should not believe that what the author writes is actually in any way true.

I am somewhat surprised that people take this newsstory at face value. A little bit more restraint in terms of judgement would be nice. I am not saying that these people did not have the intention of causing harm, I am just saying: "Not so fast!" We do not even know how serious or advanced the plan was.
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If only the German/Euro media and public held 1/100th of the level of "not so fast" when reports of US villiany surfaced
If you make the same point with your german friends on such occasions I will be interested to hear

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Interestingly, I have talked with an American friend about this subject just yesterday. I told him that I was aware that there was a certain danger of terrorist attacks happening in Germany, but that I was not especially worried about it. After all I lived 15 min from the Capitol in Washington D.C. for half a year and hardly ever worried about terrorist attacks there.

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Well I live and work in NYC and don't worry about terrorism a lot either. Whats the use.
What I don't do either, though, is to get all worked up over the inamtes at Gitmo, or wiretapping AQ calls, or even killing terrorists.

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Related to that is a fundamental issue about the danger posed by terrorist attacks. They work, because they scare the people who survive. The chance of getting hurt in such an attack are incredibly small, but people perceive it as a real danger. These attacks are not successful, because they do a lot of material damage neither in terms of life (with a few exceptions) nor in terms of fundamental damage to a society, but they can cause countries to overreact and do stupid things. Example: the invasion of Iraq.
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Aside from the inevitable ignorant dig about Iraq ( tell us - would there be a larger terrorist threat today with Saddam still in charge?? No you say? And you know this how? )we find the standard "terrorism isn't so bad - look at car accidents" idiocy

The point of terrorism is to cause fear, to kill - and to keep at it until they succeed or are destroyed.

Once you have decided to live with it - accept it as part of life - they will keep upping the stakes
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Of course I know that the author of this blog is deeply worried about Arab terrorists.

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"deeply worried" is incorrect ( if I may speak for the gentlemen ) - appropriatly alarmed would be correct. And able to identify the threat to our lives and freedom as islamic facist fanatics - and not George Bush. Were your countrymen able to do this same it would be a better world

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Frankly I am not. They only have as much power as we grant them. We should look out, we should investigate them, we should fight terrorism and especially islamist ideology,
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How - please provide some concrete actions

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but I feel uncomfortable, when I read statements that advocate hysteria and alarmism. We are not "safe" from a terrorist attack - that is very true. However it is misleading to suggest - as the author of the original post does - that most people in Germany or even a large minority consider the danger of a terrorist attack to be non-existent.

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They consider it akin to getting struck by lightning - as do you. They/you are wrong. The terrorists will hit and kill thousands - and your economy will be devestated.

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Finally, I deplore the misleading comments in the "update". I do not think it is appropriate to suggest that authorities are somewhat lax in their approach to terrorism. This is simply not true and foreign readers should not believe that what the author writes is actually in any way true.

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Well I for one have great faith in the German authorities - I have met several German police and they don't seem to have their heads up their asses as the 68'ers who run german media do.

I do think that the german media and intelectual leaders do not understand who the enemy is - and won't until they are personally injured by a terrorist attack

I am not the German media, but I grant you that the coverage of the US generally lacks in many respects. I am also aware that many Germans have a limited understanding of such a complex country as the United States and sometimes rush to judgement.

Saddam was a bad dictator, but he never was a threat to either Germany or the United States. He would have never attacked the US and he would have never given any WMDs to anyone other than his own elite forces. How do I know? Because nobody has ever shown any proof he did or even considered it. Why would he anyways? He was paranoid. And in the end he was just a badly weakened dictator.

To attack Iraq was a tragic mistake and sadly also one, that could have easily been avoided. Now it does not matter much what the US does or does not do and what Baker or the Democrats suggest and plan. The US is in a no-win situation (and has been for 2 years). Either way you lose. And do not blame or attack me, I predicted it before the war. The US can decide to stay for the next fifty years and just accept the casualties and the costs or you can leave and declare yourself defeated. The region might be engulfed in a catastrophic war, but I have doubts that anything can be done now to prevent it. Ironically, it really had nothing to do with terrorism. If you want to feel better about Iraq, you can auto-suggest yourself that Saddam would have blown up the whole US, if he had not been overthrown.

It is a mistake to believe that terrorists can be destroyed. Individuals can be killed or imprisoned, but organizations normally survive such incidents until they give up the fight (like the IRA) or disband (like the RAF). Terrorist organizations can also kill only a very limited number of individuals due to organizational and logistical restraints. They are after all not countries. As for economic devastation, 9/11 did not devastate anything (except for the US airline industry) and it was a horrific attack that killed thousands.

That leads me to your next question. How can we fight terrorism?
Law enforcement is certainly crucial, we all need to be watchful without being alarmed. European countries also need to put much greater efforts into integrating their Muslim citizens. I am not very worried about Turkish or Kurdish terrorists in Germany, but we have not done very well in trying to provide equal opportunities for them in our society. This fault lies with German society as a whole, but especially with conservatives, who argued for decades that the Turks would some day go back home. Nevertheless, the situation in Germany is hardly comparable to France.

I also supported the war in Afghanistan, though I realize that this is a hard mission that will probably have to continue for decades. Other than that, we need to work on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Other than that, the terrorists are here to stay for a while, maybe a long while.

I do not think that German police are lazy or complacent, but I also think your view of the German media is somewhat one-sided.

68ers seem to be the equivalent to American "liberals" if you are a conservative. That is a pretty shallow view. The 68ers have played an important part in German history by breaking up certain enduring undemocratic structures. They opened up a lot of discourses on issues that simply had not been discussed before, such as the Holocaust, the Nazi-regime, World War II, hierachies in society, German "Obrigkeitsdenken", radical forms of dissent, new ways of living, sex, art and social justice. They had many ideas that were downright stupid and used a language that was highly unpleasant, but so did their opponents. Nevertheless, Germany greatly benefitted from their efforts.

Finally, I find your attitude both annoying and amusing. You seem to imply that you would like all those dissenters hurt by an attack, so that they can see for themselves, how grave the danger is. That is pretty mean. Have you ever considered that you might exaggerate?

As for American human rights abuses, they hurt the US more than anyone else on the planet and it should be in their (and your) interest to stop them. If you are interested in fighting terrorism, closing Guantanamo should be a priority. It is wrong and remains wrong, no matter how necessary it might feel. Has Congress ever considered passing reasonable anti-terrorism legislation? No. See where the problem lies? It is wrong that Congress never lived up to its responsibilities and let the president just do whatever certain advisors suggested.

People always talk about killing terrorists or imprisoning them, but how do they know, if they are really terrorists? Maybe they just happened to be unpopular at home and were sold for some thousand dollars to the high-bidding US army. I do not doubt that some inmates at Guantanamo are terrorists, but many just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Therefore it is wrong to have such a cavalier attitude about the issue of human rights. One day it comes back to haunt you.

I'll deal with nail75 later. But for the moment, can someone explain to this American what the applicable German law is? When I first read this story earlier, I found it very confusing. Basically, I don't understand why they were released.

Thanks in advance.

Hi Pamela,
the suspects were arrested for suspected membership in or support of a terrorist organization (§ 129a Abs. 1 Nr. 1, Abs. 5 StGB). Here is the official press release, sorry, German only. The people were arrested at a very early stage of planing, in order to secure evidence. As far as I get it, they are not regarded an imminent threat nor are they expected to flee (I wonder about the latter). In that case you are usually set free until trial and conviction.

Hey Pamela,

very much looking forward to your "dealing" with nail75. Always nice to read your comments.

I see two reasons for the release of the terror suspects. First, as blue pointed out, there are legal reasons for this. I agree with him, the flight risk might be more of an issue than the authorities think. On the other hand, and this is the second reason for them being released, I do think the authorities will keep a very close watch on the supects. I could imagine they are trying to gather more intel on whether there are more people involved in this whole plot.

Regarding nail75's comments on the perception of a terrorist threat and the reality of such a threat: I think the task at hand will be a very difficult one for every state faced by such a threat. The balance between safety and risks that you are willing to take on the one hand and the democratic rights and freedom of each citizen of the state on the other hand is a very delicate issue. Too much restraints of freedom and rights and people will rightfully ask whether the state they live in is the sort of democratic state they want to live in. Not enough safety and too frequent terrorist attacks and people again will rightfully ask whether their state can provide them with the security they need.

In my opinion Germany has handled the last terrorist threat it faced, namely the left wing terror by the Red Army Faction in the 70ies througout the 80ies to early 90ies quite well. I know there unfortunately were enough victims to suggest otherwise, but the size of the threat should be taken into consideration. I don't have any numbers, but especially in light of the still prevalent influence of the so called 68ers (people that took part in the student riots/protests following the year of 1968) one could argue that the base of supporters and sympathizers was far larger and wider spread across society (at least inside the of germany) than it is at the moment with the islamist threat.

Helmut Schmidt, the German chancellor at the height of the threat in the late 70ies, to this day argues that had he given in to the terrorist demands it could well have done really bad damage to the German state at its core.

Although this shows that taking a hard stance on terrorism including measures like (racial) profiling, wiretapping ect. will help in the fight against terrorism it will only take you so far. I live in the city of Bonn (the former capital of Germany) and from what older friends have told me the reactions to this threat were very extreme in some cases. In the fall of 77 many parts of Bonn almost resembled a warzone with tanks standing in front of official buildings. All across Germany highway exits were lined with roadblocks with policemen holding machine guns. One friend of mine was cycling and got caught in a tram's rails and fell down. There was a politician with his police escort behind her and she immediately stared down five machine guns because they thought this was a diversion maneuver for an attack (which was the way that the actual attacks mostly were carried out).

But then again, all those (in my opinion) quite strong measures to combat the terrorist threat were not able to prevent most of the assasinations of the 80ies and 90ies. In fact, only as recently as 2002 or 2003 were the police able to tie an already killed terrorist to an assasination via a genetic fingerprint.

In the end it was the lack of support for their issues from society that got the RAF to give up. Now, in no way do I think that the two cases are similar enough to assume that the Islamists will simply give up if we just play nice with them. But I do argue that it will take much more than just law enforcement, wire tapping, racial profiling etc. to counter this threat. And yes, this does include the possibility of bringing democracy and freedom to the middle eastern states, probably and unfortunately by means of war or other force.

@nail75

I think you are honestly unaware of how thoughtless some of your comments are. Let me explain.

The chance of getting hurt in such an attack are incredibly small, but people perceive it as a real danger. These attacks are not successful, because they do a lot of material damage neither in terms of life (with a few exceptions)

There are some people to whom you owe an apology. First, the children of 5 families in my neighborhood who lost a parent in the Pentagon. Next, the parents of

Bernard Brown, age 11
Asia Cottom, age 11
Rodney Dickens, age 11
Zoe Falkenberg, age 8
Dana Falkenberg, age 3

American Flight 77

After all I lived 15 min from the Capitol in Washington D.C. for half a year and hardly ever worried about terrorist attacks there.

And there are some people you to whom you owe thanks, specifically the families of ;

Todd Beamer
Mark Bingham
Thomas Burnett
Jeremy Glick

United Flight 93

Now I'm going to tell you a personal story. For 4 years a Saudi family lived next door. Every summer, over school break, they went back to Saudi Arabia. This family consisted of Dad, Mom, 2 sons, 2 daughters and a nanny.

In order for you to get an accurate picture, you need to understand that there are 4 houses - 2 on each side - on our 'pipestem' that share a common driveway from the sreet. That common driveway leads to the driveways of the individual houses. Our house is in the back so I pass 2 houses coming and going. It is really cheek-by-jowel.

One day, at the end of summer, I came home from the grocery store to find a minivan in front of the Saudi's house being unloaded by 3 people dressed in those black backs - and gloves. They were all about 6 ft tall. They were unloading mountain bikes. About 7 of them. With one arm. Tossing them to some guy standing in the yard.

Now I don't know about you, but when I see men trying to pass as Saudi women, I'm not thinking 'fashion statement'.

The bottom line is: I've seen it up close and personal. And if you beg me, I'll tell you about the time I punched out the Muslim misogynist in the grocery store.

I told him that I was aware that there was a certain danger of terrorist attacks happening in Germany, but that I was not especially worried about it.

A terrorist attack in Germany is, in some respects, beside the point. Terrorist attacks are, in some respects, beside the point.

The point is that WESTERN CIVILIZATION is under attack by Islamist ideology and there is not just one method. Apparently, you understand that it must be fought but I don't see any weapons on your table. In your world view, you're letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, e.g., If you are interested in fighting terrorism, closing Guantanamo should be a priority. If it were up to me, I would fight terrorism AND close Gitmo - I'd execute everyone in there and stop taking prisoners.

If you don't - or won't - understand by now that you are on a battlefield, there's not much any of us who do understand it can do to change your mind. But there is one thing you can do. If you want to preach to someone about 'human rights', try the Taliban and their ilk. They'll really appreciate it.

@blue, nebilet,

Well thanks, but I still don't get it. In order to secure evidence? On this I agree with nail75 - this is one of the strangest stories I've ever read. I'm scratching my head over all the points that don't make any sense.

nebilet, I remember very well the RAF. My father worked for General Motors and he had colleagues in Germany at the time. Also, my high school German teacher, Hilde Pinkus (from Munich) kept me up to date. At the same time, we were dealing with the Weather Underground, which compared to the RAF, was a 'wannabee' organization.

A difficult time for us all. For those of you who are not familiar with what Germany had do deal with, this is pretty good.

Red Army Faction

And note: Although the wikipedia notes are agnostic on how some RAF members died, the observant/critical reader could reasonably conclude that the German gov't engaged in cladestine assasination.

Good on ya.

Now,
I would also like to hear about nail75's assertion:
68ers seem to be the equivalent to American "liberals" if you are a conservative. That is a pretty shallow view. The 68ers have played an important part in German history by breaking up certain enduring undemocratic structures. They opened up a lot of discourses on issues that simply had not been discussed before, such as the Holocaust, the Nazi-regime, World War II, hierachies in society, German "Obrigkeitsdenken", radical forms of dissent, new ways of living, sex, art and social justice. They had many ideas that were downright stupid and used a language that was highly unpleasant, but so did their opponents. Nevertheless, Germany greatly benefitted from their efforts.

I have no way of evaluating this, and would like to be educated. Also, the term "Obrigkeitsdenken" ???
I'm clueless. (what else is new?)

nebilet, you wrote
In the end it was the lack of support for their issues from society that got the RAF to give up.

Was it lack of support for this issues (nail75 seems to disagree) or lack of support for the methods?

@nail75
Have you ever considered that you might exaggerate?

In the "There is indeed a G-d" department we have
Police in the German capital are on the alert for more trouble after a series of clashes with youths in three suburbs with a mainly immigrant background. The disturbances raised fears that parts of Berlin were becoming no-go areas and reawakened memories of the horrific clashes involving migrant youths in French cities last year.

Islam in Europe

Ok, I'll shut up now.

NAIL

People always talk about killing terrorists or imprisoning them, but how do they know, if they are really terrorists? Maybe they just happened to be unpopular at home and were sold for some thousand dollars to the high-bidding US army. I do not doubt that some inmates at Guantanamo are terrorists, but many just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Therefore it is wrong to have such a cavalier attitude about the issue of human rights. One day it comes back to haunt you.

AND RIGHT HERE DEMONSTRATES JUST HOW REMOVED FROM REALITY YOU ARE. YOU FEEL THAT ---SOME--- OF THE GITMO DETAINEES ARE GUILTY BUT ---MANY--- JUST HAPPENED TO BE AT THE WRONG PLACE, ECT ECT

HOW MUCH INCOMPETENCE/VILLIANY DOES A PERSON HAVE TO PLACE IN THE USA TO ASSUME THIS KIND OF MIX AS YOU CASUALLY DO

AND THIS IS IN FACT A COMMON VIEW IN EUROPE

"SOME" MAY BE GUILTY BUT "MANY" ARE INNOCENTS

AND AFTER SO MANY YEARS - AT SUCH COST - WITH SUCH CRITICISM - THE UNITED STATES IS WHAT? SO INCOMPETENT SO EVIL THAT IT HOLDS THESE DARLINGS
WHY?

HERES A CLUE BAT - MAYBE MANY - INDEED MOST - INEED MORE LIKELY - ALL - ARE JIHADISTS

PERHAPS THESE STORIES OF "WRONG PLACE - WRONG TIME" ARE AGAIN A PRODUCT OF YOUR MEDIA THAT RUNS WITH ANY OUTRAGEOUS TALE FROM A DETAINEE ( "I WENT TO STUDY THE KORAN IN AFGHANISTAN ON 9/12/2001 - I HAD NO PRIOR PLAN BUT SO WHAT EH" "SURE I WAS CAPTURED ON A BATTLEFIElD WITH AN AK47 - BUT THEY FORCED ME TO JOIN" ) AS LONG AS IT MAINTAINS THE CORRECT WORLD VIEW - IE: THE USA IS BAD!

"IE: THE USA IS BAD!"

But - isn't the US bad? After all, I see it on German TV, I hear it in German radio,I read it in German newspapers. Many German politicians are telling me the US is bad. Oh, and all the polls. The wonderful polls that tell me the US is more dangerous than Iran or North Korea. They surely can't be all wrong?!

Yes Mir, we're all wrong, and do you know how to tell? We keep selecting our leaders out of the 300,000,000 people that are wrong.

Recurse as necessary.

Don't you know that the Germberlains are always morally superior to those nasty uneducated barbaric, neaderthal Americans?
After all Goebbels and now his Gesellen tell us that on a daily basis?

@Pamela:
Sorry for taking so long to reply; I was offline and will stop by intermittently only for the foreseeable future, so please bear with me and check back when waiting for an answer. :)

Well thanks, but I still don't get it. In order to secure evidence?
The terrorists were caught in their early planning stages through wire taps, they seem to have been under surveillance for some time already. The prosecutors judged they would not learn much more by just keeping listening and wanted to get their hands on the people in the background. So they arrested the terrorists and confiscated their computers and possibly other material. This was the only way to get their hands on the PCs and other content.
I have no way of evaluating this, and would like to be educated. Also, the term "Obrigkeitsdenken" ???
68er-Bewegung was a year after I was born, so I do not have first hand experience. ;-) A part of the 68er is about this: After WWII West Germany needed to be put into gear fast, so denazification was not as thorough as many 68ers had wished. You cannot easily find new judges, professors, policemen and such in a matter of months or even years so the most notorious Nazis were removed but many people had an unbroken career. After the war most people were at first busy to ensure their survival and later on enjoyed the "Wirtschaftswunder", the skyrocketing recovery of German industry. "Obrigkeitsdenken" is deliberate submission to authoritarian government. As soon as someone wears a uniform or is in an agency, you have to obey him. A mindset reinforced by the Nazis with the Führer-cult and not easily lost in a population. Whether the discussion about the Nazi past was a result of the 68 generation is up to debate, as there had been work on that way prior to their uprise. (See the "forerunners" section in the automated google translation of the entry in wikipedia.de on 68er-Bewegung)
I'm clueless. (what else is new?)
News to me! Please, don't put yourself down, even in jest.

Thanks blue. This explains a lot. (Although I'm a bit disappointed that no one addressed nail75's assertion that the 68ers were responsible for 'new ways of living,sex...' - quite an accomplishment, that one!)

Well, a bit overrated I would think. You have to bear in mind the pre-68 outlook on sex. Think sexual revolution. Kommune 1 was influential for the 68ers and this site gives a good - if biased - feeling for 68ers.

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