Posts tagged ‘terrorism’

November 19, 2010

Berlin’s terror alert: What goes around comes around

THE GERMAN GOVERNMENT HAS issued a terror warning for the country and especially for Berlin, where a major terrorist attack is expected “before the end of the month.” Security fences have gone up around the Reichstag building, machine-gun toting policeman with sixteen kilo bullet-proof vests are patrolling public spaces, security has been doubled outside the city’s Jewish institutions, the BVG public transit authority has proclaimed its second highest security level, and Berlin’s senator for interior affairs (i.e. for police and public safety), Ehrhart Körting, has asked all citizens to report “strange-looking” people and activities to the authorities. According to American security officials, up to four al-Qaeda operatives are already in or near Berlin, where they can rely on over 400 Islamist allies in the capital itself and 3,000 nationwide, many of them fresh from terrorist…

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September 29, 2010

New terror threats encourage Europe’s new New Right

JUST AFTER NORWEGIAN POLICE uncovered a further plot to blow up the headquarters of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, new reports have come out revealing a broad-based conspiracy to stage massive urban terror attacks across Europe. Britain’s Sky News told viewers yesterday that a group linked to a Pakistan-based al-Qaeda network is planning to stage armed assaults in the style of the 2008 Mumbai attacks on London as well as on cities in France and Germany. All three countries have sizeable ISAF forces operating in Afghanistan. The current surge in American drone attacks on targets in Pakistan is apparently aimed at disrupting the plot, which is at an “advanced but not immanent stage.” Ironically, the acts appear to be motivated by revenge against the drone attacks, which regularly violate Pakistan’s sovereignty and have killed…

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September 28, 2010

Bomb plot against Danish newspaper uncovered

WHEN THE DANISH NEWSPAPER Jyllands-Posten first published controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in 2005 as a provocation to domestic Muslims, the paper’s editor and staff knew they was courting trouble. But they could scarcely have imagined just how much chaos the cartoons would eventually cause, including deadly riots and a boycott of Danish products across the Muslim world. Were it not for some quick work on the part of the Danish Intelligence Service and the Norwegian police, the affair could have finished the newspaper and its staff off…

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August 16, 2010

From pastor’s daughter to terrorist: Gudrun Ensslin at 70

YESTERDAY, AUGUST 15, MARKED the seventieth anniversary of the birth of German terrorist Gudrun Ensslin. Born to a Lutheran pastor and his wife in the Swabian village of Bartholomä during the Second World War, Ensslin absorbed her social conscience with her mother’s milk. She prayed to Jesus, hiked with her local Wandervogel group, spent a year as a high school exchange student in Pennsylvania, and sought to make the world a better place. While still a student she moved to West Berlin in 1965 to fight for nuclear disarmament. There she met revolutionary outlaw Andreas Baader. Soon the couple were torching department stores and planning bloody revolution. What ensued was a love affair made in hell that still haunts the Federal Republic to this day.

The so-called Baader-Meinhof Gang (the later Red Army Faction), born in a spectacular prison escape in 1970, was innacurately named. Despite journalist Ulrike Meinhof’s high profile, her depressive, masochistic personality was no match for Ensslin’s sheer terrorist drive…

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June 3, 2010

Swedish crime author tells his version of Israeli assault

IF YOU UTTER THE term “Swedish crime fiction,” chances are that most Americans will think of the late Stieg Larsson, author of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and the two other books in the series. But long before Larsson hit the bestseller lists last year (and then tragically died at age 50), author and playwright Henning Mankell of Inspector Wallander fame had been the man to watch when it came to Swedish police novels. I’d say it’s bad news for Israel that Europe’s leading crime author was also an eyewitness to what much of the world regards as a criminal act, namely the assault last Monday by Israeli special forces on a relief flotilla bound for Gaza that resulted in nine deaths and a number of injuries.

Mankell, age 62, who had been sailing on the “Sofia,” one of the ships in the convoy, was briefly detained by the Israeli commandos…

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June 3, 2010

Sweden locks down on “Everyone Draw Mohammed Day”

GLOBALIZATION CAN BE A wonderful – and a terrifying – thing. On “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” yesterday, the Pakistani government blocked both Facebook and Youtube, and the Swedish government closed its Islamabad embassy – all because the American TV series “South Park” presented the Prophet Mohammed in a bear suit and a Swedish artist called Lars Vilks published a caricature of him as a dog, prompting a wave of death threats as well as physical attacks against Vilks’s person and his home. Government spokesmen in Stockholm did not provide a specific reason for the embassy closure, pointing instead to “the general security situation in Pakistan.” In Lahore, demonstrators trampled Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian flags, demanding that Pakistan break off diplomatic relations with the three Scandinavian nations. The diplomatic lockdown appears to be a reasonable precaution: two years ago a suicide bomber killed…

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March 12, 2010

My three questions for Karl Rove

Former Bush adviser Karl Rove

IF YOU’RE ANYTHING LIKE me, you are frequently frustrated by interviews with important public figures that fail to ask the right questions. I found myself feeling this way yet again while watching an interview that BBC correspondent Kirsty Wark conducted with former Bush adviser Karl Rove on her “Newsnight” program yesterday. (You can watch the interview HERE.) Rove came on the show to tout his new memoir, Courage and Consequence.

When the discussion got around to the use of waterboarding against terror suspects…

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March 11, 2010

EU: Air passengers to pay for nude scanning “privileges”

SURPRISE, SURPRISE! NOT ONLY is the European Union introducing so-called nude scanners at most or all of its international airports, it also intends to make passengers pay for the privilege of doing a virtual striptease before uniformed strangers. (I have already written about the nude scanners here and here.) That is the upshot of a meeting of EU transportation ministers held in Brussels today. The “backscatter full-body scanners” cost up to €100,000 ($136,000) each, which makes them far too expensive for airports to finance by themselves and also too expensive for strapped national budgets. Germany’s transportation minister Peter Ramsauer told reporters that “it is a rather odd philosophy to saddle the governments with everything. … The ordinary taxpayer can’t assume all these costs [because] it contradicts cost-transparency and cost-reflectiveness. And I’m saying that as a trained businessman.” The ministers have not yet decided how much each scan should cost, but they have agreed the price should be made equal across Europe.

Brussels has yet to decide whether the scanners should be required at all European airports…

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January 20, 2010

Incident at Munich airport humiliates safety officials

A RECENT ANTI-AIRPORT security demonstration by the Pirate Party at three German airports, in which several dozen young people took off their clothes to express their anger over the imminent introduction of so-called “nude scanners” that can virtually strip air travelers naked at security checkpoints, was based around the slogan “Security is an illusion.” An incident at Munich’s international airport today underscores the truth of that statement.

At 3:30 p.m. Central European time a passenger arrived at the security checkpoint in Munich’s Terminal 2 carrying only a laptop computer. As he went through the standard security check, which is provided by a private contractor, a sensor picked up possible traces of explosives in or on the device. When the security official asked the passenger to step aside for a more thorough examination, he grabbed the computer and ran directly into the secure zone of the airport. The German Federal Police, which is responsible for general airport security, immediately shut down the terminal and sent forty officers, many of them with shepherd dogs, into the secure zone…

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January 11, 2010

German Pirate flashmobs protest enhanced airport scanners

THE GERMAN PIRATE PARTY burst on the scene last spring and received a promising but ultimately unremarkable 2 percent in the September Bundestag election. At the time I thought this event was worthy of a thorough write-up in an OS post, but I also assumed the movement had peaked. I may well be right about that, but the group is still out there capturing headlines the way it does best: through calculated provocations and a keen sense of drama.

As I wrote yesterday, the German police union has reversed its policy against backscatter security scanners, which virtually strip air passengers naked as they pass through airport security checkpoints. The German government is likely to overturn its ban some time soon and the rest of the European Union is set to follow.

As it turns out, this is just the sort of news that brings the Pirates – who have transformed the struggle against “glass people” into the battle cry of the digital generation – out of their winter hibernation. On Sunday, January 10, dozens of Pirates flocked to the main airports of Frankfurt/Main, Berlin, and Düsseldorf to stage demonstrations against the future deployment of the new scanners. The buccaneers stripped down to their underwear and marched through the airports chanting “You don’t need to scan us – we’re already naked!” They also claimed to be heading for Flight GO1984, a refererence to George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four…

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