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Question of the Day
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said that his country has no concrete evidence of an imminent attack and that security forces are vigilant because of an ongoing “high abstract danger” of the terror threat.
Speaking in Berlin, Mr. de Maiziere insisted that German authorities have been aware since early 2009 of possible targets in the capital mentioned in U.S. media reports over the weekend.
“There is no reason to be alarmist at this time,” Mr. de Maiziere said.
The al-Qaida-linked terror plot against European cities is still in its early stages, with the suspects calling acquaintances in Europe to plan logistics, a Pakistani intelligence official said last week. One of the Britons died in a recent CIA missile strike, he said.
The Pakistani official said the suspects are hiding in North Waziristan, a Pakistani tribal region where militancy is rife and where the United States has focused many of its drone-fired missile strikes.
The Swedish intelligence agency SAPO on Friday raised the terror alert from low to elevated, noting a shift in activities among Sweden-based groups that could be plotting attacks against the country.
In Rome, speaking on state-run RAI TV, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said the U.S. alarm about the potential for a terror attack in Europe was “realistic” for Italy because it has troops in Afghanistan. Mr. Frattini said there were no specific Italian targets.
In Washington, the FBI and the Homeland Security Department said they have no indication that terrorists are targeting the United States or its citizens as part of a new threat against Europe.
An intelligence bulletin obtained Monday by the Associated Press said the U.S. government organizations said al-Qaeda continues to want to attack the United States, but that there was nothing specific, imminent or related to the European plots.
Former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff urged Americans in Europe to take common-sense precautions.
“Don’t walk around with the American flag on your back,” Mr. Chertoff told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” ”(Consider) where would you take shelter if something happened.”
British intelligence prefers to keep targets under surveillance as they plan attacks, often waiting until the final stages of a plot to intervene — hoping to gather evidence to be used in prosecutions and to gain as much information as possible about plotters’ contacts.
“That cuts significantly too close to the bone for the United States; they are not happy to let plots run for too long. The U.K. will allow a plot to run to quite a late stage,” said Tobias Feakin, director of national security at London’s Royal United Services Institute, a military think tank.
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