Skip to content

Terror Suspects Motivated by Anti-Americanism

UPPERDATE: Surveillance rather than military action, seems to be the lesson from this foiled plot.

Anglofritz has a good press round-up:
The German police are uniformly applauded. The Financial Times reports that the cops were so far ahead of the game they secretly replaced some vats of chemicals amassed by the would-be terrorists with less explosive ones.
Anglofritz also brings an older quote from John Kerry: "The war on terror is far less of a military operation and far more of an intelligence-gathering law enforcement operation."

"Congrats to the Germans," writes Andrew Sullivan in The Daily Dish:

These men are educated, two of three are German nationals, all seem to have been trained not in Iraq, Iran or Afghanistan, but in Pakistan, a putative ally. It is hard to see how the Iraq war - whether a failure or a success - would have any impact on this tiny cell's attempt at mass murder in the name of God. This is simply the religious violence we have to contend with for the indefinite future. All we can do is what the Germans did: keep up surveillance (with protections against abuse), and run as many to ground as we can.


German police arrested three suspected Islamic militants who were planning "massive" and "imminent" attacks on American targets in Germany, authorities said Wednesday according to CNN (via Davids Medienkritik):

"The main motivation of the group in Germany is hatred against American citizens, and therefore they had as main targets the American military installations," said Joerg Ziercke, president of Germany's Federal Criminal Investigation Office. "This could also of course have affected German citizens in restaurants and other places." A counterterrorism source in Frankfurt with knowledge of the plot told CNN a sophisticated detonator -- of the type that can be used in a military device -- was found in the possession of some of the suspects. This type of detonator is difficult to get, the source said. It is more precise and can inflict more casualties than lower-grade detonators. Investigators are trying to determine how the suspects obtained it, the source said. Authorities would not elaborate on whether Ramstein Air Base -- the U.S. military's main installation in Germany -- or the major international hub of Frankfurt Airport were among the targets, as reported by German media.

UPDATE: A Fistful of Euros has a good post criticizing media reports that claim that Germans are shocked by the revelation of home-grown terrorist suspects, who are also converts to Islam.

Oh my God! One of the terrorist suspects is even named "Fritz," writes the Foreign Policy Blog.

No surprise, really. Two weeks ago, the Atlantic Community summarized a NYPD intelligence report that argued:
The threat of terrorism is increasingly becoming a homegrown commodity, with ordinary citizens and residents playing a leading role in organizing and carrying out terrorist attacks.
And this threat is not limited to Europe, but also in the US, according to the NYPD report.

Trackbacks

No Trackbacks

Comments

Display comments as Linear | Threaded

influx on :

I am curious about the little update Medienkritik decided to add. I've seen this on other websites as well - the implication that the German social system is somehow partially responsible for Islamist extremism. As in: if they wouldn't have been on the dole, and if they wouldn't have had free education, they wouldn't have planned their attack. Anyone care to enlighten me about the logic behind this?

Don S on :

I think there is some logic in it. Specifically, a system which pays people indefinately to sit on their butts rather than work gives them time to dwell upon their injuries and hates. Time for mad mullahs to teist them and direct their hate at whatever the target du jour is. Working people have their troubles but in general don't get up to such things - particularly when the opportunities available to them are clearly equal (more or less) to those offered to others. I don't see 'free education' as a problem. But if the free education leads to no clear career opportunities it can curdle one's attitudes and lead to things liek this.

Don S on :

Oops. I meant 'twist them', not 'teist them'!

influx on :

I fail to see how someone flipping burgers for minimum wage would be less inclined to dwell on the hate for the society he or she lives in than someone on the dole. That argument is just naive, short-sighted and, in the end, plain wrong, because it doesn't take into account that there are almost four million people unemployed in Germany, not all of whom are out to get US Americans. Do you really think it would have made any difference if those three guys would have been standing in some Doner shop slicing Gammelfleisch?

Don S on :

Influx, I have worked with many educated muslims in the US - and we weren't flipping burgers! No, they were well-paid software engineers.

Don S on :

"Do you really think it would have made any difference if those three guys would have been standing in some Doner shop slicing Gammelfleisch?" No, you miss the point. It's a mistake to impose European cultural and economic patterns upon the US and then expect to understand anything. Most Americans flip burgers or slice sausage at some point in their lives but most of us don't tend to stay there. I worked my way through university mopping floors and cleaning hospitals. Now I'm a software engineer. Mulim immigrants to the US tend to be fairly well-educated and frequently follow a similar path to the one I did.

influx on :

@ Don S "It's a mistake to impose European cultural and economic patterns upon the US and then expect to understand anything. " Why should I impose anything on the US, when we are talking about something that happened in Europe? My point was that I don't think it would have made any difference if those three wanna-be suicide bombers had been on the dole or if they had been working any other job, serving Doners or doing analysis for McKinsey. I just think that it's wrong and misleading to think that the German social welfare breeds Islamist extremists, or to imply as much. And Don, do you think that those three idiots would have had the chops to work as "well-paid software engineers"? I think you're missing the point, by miles. The problem is not social welfare, the benefits of which are received by millions of peaceful Germans, the problem is Islamic extremism.

Don S on :

Perhaps 'impose' was the wrong word. What I meant was that you were using a common European paradigm for the opportunities available to people in the bottom part of society like most European muslims are; that the choices are limited to burger-flipping or the dole. That is not generally true in the US, and I suspect not generally true over the entire span of Europe. It may be generally true in certain areas of Europe, and csome in America may believe it's true for them. My point is that available affordable, and high quality higher education creates ladders out of low-end jobs in the US for those with the basic literacy and work skills needed to embrace the opportunities on offer. I never flipped burgers but I did make pizzas and mop floors while attending university. The work skills needed aren't that much, basically an ability to show up on time, clean, sober, and ready for work, be polite to others, and work hard. Some people cannot muster those skills - and things tend to go harder for them in the US than in Europe, I think. On the other hand the US may be the best place in the world for those who are able to master those basic skills. It's certainly the best place (in that respect) I've spent significant time in. But I could only give an informed opinion about the US, the UK, and Italy.

Don S on :

"And Don, do you think that those three idiots would have had the chops to work as "well-paid software engineers"? I think you're missing the point, by miles. The problem is not social welfare, the benefits of which are received by millions of peaceful Germans, the problem is Islamic extremism." Influx, you are the one missing my point by miles. 1) Andrew Sullivan says they were 'well-educated'. Upon what basis do you conclude they were 'those three idiots' then, influx? 2) The second point you miss is that I'm NOT blaming 'social welfare'. Obviously 'Islamic extremism' is the problem. The question for me is how they became extremists? I don't have an absolute answer - but it seems likely that underemployment may well have been a large contributing factor. Underemployment can mean a number of things. Idleness and unemployment is one meaning. Another meaning is having a fancy education and no work better then 'flipping burgers' available to one. No, my point is a finer one. It is that any system has to also provide reasonable opportunities to the people using it. Whether one calls the system 'social welfare' or 'capitalism' is in a sense immaterial to that question. One question I believe Germans ought to be asking themselves is whether the opportunities offered to Muslims in the German system are fair or enough. To answer that one needs to look at outcomes in addition to education and supposed opportunities. Note that I'm not answering those questions for you - I cannot pretend to enough knowledge to do so. Nor does the US have an immaculate record in such matters - one need look no further than the remaining portions of the underclass to see that. But it seems to me that we (sometimes) are asking the right questions. Are Germans, in sufficient numbers? My single prolonged experience living in Germany would suggest not - but that was in one company for about 3 months. Limited, so I could be wrong.

influx on :

Don, thanks for the reply. Two of the three terrorists converted to Islam when they were 18 and 19, respectively. They also aren't second or third generation Turks, from what I understand, so their fate is hardly representative of the Muslims you are referring to. Fritz G, from what I've read, actually comes from a fairly normal bourgeouis family, the father is an engineer, the mother is a doctor. Now, underemployment may have been some factor, but I would think that it is really minor. Again, look at the terrorists in the UK, they had jobs, worked as doctors. I think you are overemphasizing the role the German social system plays in this. The biographies of the three terrorists suggest that some of their problems started in puberty (e.g. parents getting divorced), so it's quite a stretch to attribute them to underemployment. Much more important factors seem to be things like alienation, the Iraq war, etc. Remember that the terrorists explicitly planned to attack US institutions, their anger was directed at the US in the first place, not at the society which you claim did not provide them with enough career opportunities. My point is that using three people out of millions as proof for some larger political and social failure is just a tiny bit too much.

Don S on :

The Frankfurt Airport was not one of the targets, influx? Isn't Frankfurt Germany's larget international airport? Whenever I check out a hop on Lufthansa it seems to go through Frankfurt ot Munchen, most often the former. Of course that could be anti-US too given the number of US tourists who pass through it. I think you put your finger on something when you mentioned alienation, but I believe you're fooling yourself if you think it doesn't exist in the Turkish community. We might hacve to wait until they show you themselves.....

influx on :

@ Don S. "I believe you're fooling yourself if you think it doesn't exist in the Turkish community" Where did I say that? Alienation exists in the Turkish community, no doubt, I would never deny that, please don't put words in my mouth. And I think it's a much more dangerous factor than underemployment or the "bloated German welfare state".

letters on :

@influx: If you're looking for logic at David's Medienkritik, you won't find it. You will, however, find desperate appeals for money to keep the site alive. I wish him well. He's entertaining in a twisted sort of way.

RayD on :

The only thing desperate here are the weak attempts to bash our site for doing something that virtually all blogs do (including Atlantic Review): Solicit donations. Does the donation button on the sidebar of this site mean that Joerg is desperate? (I don't think so.) Further, our recent donations posting is the first for several months - and we are in no danger of going under - (sorry to disappoint some of you). Further - we never implied that social welfare is a direct cause of terrorism. (Sorry again to disappoint those trying to put words in our mouths.) It is - however - undeniable that the ability to live and study for free - coupled with the asylum laws and strict protections against deportation - make Germany a particularly comfortable place for disaffected radicals to live and prepare violent acts without the bother of work or financial need. If anything, this is yet another negative side-effect of the so-called German "social" system.

influx on :

That's a more nuanced statement than "The terrorists were supported by the German welfare state - via the German taxpayer.", even though I still think that you're wrong if you think that Fritz and his friends would have been less fanatical if they would have been employed in whatever job. Remember the recent attacks in the UK? Some of the men were doctors. The German taxpayer also supported the police force that caught those terrorists, btw. "It is - however - undeniable that the ability to live and study for free (...) make Germany a particularly comfortable place for disaffected radicals to live and prepare violent acts without the bother of work or financial need" That's such a blanket statement, you might as well say that the Bahamas are a comfortable place for disaffected radicals to live without the bother of buying warm clothes. My point is that Germany is a comfortable place for anyone, not just "disaffected radicals". So just because those three idiots were caught, it speaks to some failure of the German social system? That's some screwy logic, and a cheap way of getting another political point across.

RayD on :

It's not only more comfortable because of the welfare system - it is also comfortable because of the presence of radical Islamists and the German government's inability to combat them more aggressively due to soft immigration and deportation policies among several other things. The Bahamas or other nations would not be as comfortable place because you would have to work, pay for shelter, deal with more restrictive laws on immigration, etc. Local taxpayers would not be paying to support your studies or free living and free time - as they would in Germany. I also think Don S makes several solid points above. That said - terror is a potential problem virtually anywhere.

David on :

An American graduate school is also a "particularly comfortable place" for cheerleading the Iraq War.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

@ influx I agree that blaming social welfare is nonsense. It's similar to blaming freedom" for 9/11. The 9/11 pilots abused the freedom that gives people the opportunity to learn to fly plans in the United States. Besides, most of the 9/11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia, which has a big welfare state funded mainly by US car drivers... So to follow Medienkritik's logic...

RayD on :

Hey Joerg, I guess we can blame the bloated German welfare state on America too - since Germany doesn't have to pay for a real military and can simply live under the NATO umbrella provided primarily by good old Uncle Sam.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

So why is America paying for it? "real military" The US defense spending is the anomaly, not Germany's. And does the huge US defense spending make the US any safer?

Pat Patterson on :

Yes, and the relatively peaceful 60 years since the end of World War II would indicate that the US and Europe were and are much safer because of that spending. How many other periods in human history, except for the Pax Romana of the Early Empire, have gone that long without one or many full fledged continental and intercontinental wars? The caricature might be shallow and cruel but much of US military spending is due to a lack of confidence in Europe being able to defend itself or the contradictory view of being eager to start another war. The fact that the US does not have a native socialist left party opposed to all wars makes the desire and ability to maintain a large and world wide military that much easier.

Don S on :

"The US defense spending is the anomaly, not Germany's." They both are, Joerg. Germany's spending ought to be about double what it is. The US pending ought to be about half of what it is. Cause and effect? Sometimes I think so.....

Anonymous on :

When Medienkritik’s blames social welfare for the creation of Islamic, home-grown, terror in D, he is referring not to the social system itself but the exploitation of it and the necessary resultant antipathy directed towards welfare recipients by their fellow citizens and the recipient’s correlative self-loathing vis-à-vis the State at large and fellow citizens. Think back to the July 11th bombers in London. One of them had amassed half a million pounds on the dole. These are extreme cases, but I am open to the argument that a life lived dependent on others’ largesse in this democratic age is spiritually repellent and psychically problematic. In America, people quantify the ghetto (non-racially specific Euros) by the way the citizens of the neighborhood treat the surrounding area and infrastructure. Take the A and C line in NYC. What is the difference between 133 and St. Nick’s in comparison to 125th street. Back in the day, almost all of Hamilton Heights and A’dam area was on the dole and they broke escalators, trashed cars etc. 125th was and most assuredly is more prosperous (less dole money, more bout the game) and the subways worked fine. Look at the progress researchers have made in cognitive psychology about risk-assessment in games of chance, when played with your own money which you earned and money you have been ‘given’. How many times have you seen some shmuck win a pittiance on a lottery ticket and use his winnings to buy more tickets? The dole doesn’t make muslims militants, but it does not help their already lowly status in D.

influx on :

"One of them had amassed half a million pounds on the dole." Well, okay, that did it, I am not going to work again, ever. Half a million pounds, just by not working, if only I had known. All those unemployed, I am finally beginning to see through their scheme: all they want is to amass half a million pounds, or even more. Someone has to put an end to that.

Anonymous on :

in retrospect, it might have been 250,000 pounds equating to, in these dark days, about half a million dollars; not sure. tend to do currency equations in my head before committing facts to memory. This was from the Times, Guardian or Telegraph though so it was seasonably accurate.

Don S on :

I believe this is the fellow who ammased the half-million. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abu_Hamza_al-Masri He was on the dole for a long time (his family still is), but I don't believe he got the money directly from the British government. He recieved contributions to promote his cause, which was the preaching of jihad and financing of camps promoting jihad. I doubt if he did it to get rich.

Kevin Sampson on :

“Surveillance rather than military action, seems to be the lesson from this foiled plot.” “The war on terror is far less of a military operation and far more of an intelligence-gathering law enforcement operation." Good Lord. Who do you think was operating the system which collected this information? Do you actually believe that any “law enforcement” agency in the US (including the FBI) has this kind of capability? How much do you want to bet that, whoever it was, they were NOT operating under the aegis of a search warrant at the time? In this particular instance, the information was turned over to the German law enforcement community for action because they had the capability to do so. If the plot had been centered in Mogadishu, do you think we would have turned it over to the Somali authorities, assuming any could be found? “Intelligence-gathering law enforcement operation” my @ss.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

The plot planned in Germany, not in Somalia. That is was the point. Besides, these days mainly CIA go to Somalia rather than the military, because of Black Hawk Down.

Kevin Sampson on :

Where it was is wholly irrelevant. And the CIA is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a law enforcement agency.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

You are right, of course. Point is, however, that CIA is not military either. But the Pentagon has received the largest increase in money. Much more than FBI, CIA and the rest of the alphabet.

Kevin Sampson on :

You are correct that the CIA is not military. However, the point is that they are not bound by ANY of the strictures which actual 'law enforcement' agencies must abide by. For that matter, neither are they subject to the UCMJ or the Geneva Conventions. As for the budget issue, an unknown amount of the CIA's (and NSA and NRO) budget is 'black' and therefore beyond the ken of either you or I.

Kevin Sampson on :

On further reflection, I suppose the CIA would be bound by the Geneva Convention, at least as far as treatment of enemy prisoners was concerned, provided the POWs had been lawfull combatants as defined by the convention.

Pat Patterson on :

Joerg-I think you mean that the military in the US has the larger budget compared to the intelligence agencies but the rate of increase has been larger for the latter rather than the former. Between 2005 and 2006 the US military's budget went from 401 billion to 419 billion, a 4.8% increase. Over the last decade increasing 5-7% a year. And, for example considering that the budget for the NSA and the CIA are not released, we can use the FBI's. Which grew from 5.1 billion in 2005 to 5.7 billion in 2006, a 11% increase. This agency has averaged 7-10% a year this decade. I have seen estimates ranging from 40 billion to 1 trillion for the spy agencies budget and most seem to point to the first figure as the more reliable. While the 1 trillion figure, seemingly the favorite of the black helicopter crowd, would be 8% of US GDP for 2006. Unlikely! Traditionally radical groups talk a great deal about representing the common man yet recruit mainly from the educated middle class. A lack of radicalism among immigrant Arab groups in the USA is mainly due to the ability to find professional postions, statutory denial of aid for five years immigrants and that many are not Muslim but Christian. Many of the problems faced in the US, except for 9/11, are now coming from the ranks of converts, who usually are the undereducated. While in the ME and Europe these other groups usually share, aside from education, is that they are often unemployed or just as often underemployed. When there is a moribund economy, such as Egypt, a patronage one such as Saudi Arabia or even one that is difficult for the non-native to penetrate, such as Europe, the result most often is the creation of a group of people that, as someone else inelegantly put it, are flipping burgers and not designing things. Then when a generous social safety net is added that isolation from the host society becomes permanent.

ADMIN on :

Please note that by default the comments in the Atlantic Review are threaded rather than linear, i.e. some of the latest responses to comments are not at the bottom, but in the middle of the thread right behind the comment they respond to. At the top of the comments section you have the option to change the view from threaded to linear (=chronological), which enables you to see the latest comments at the end of the thread.

Anonymous on :

Check this out: [url=http://www.dialoginternational.com/dialog_international/2007/09/the-origins-of-.html]The Origins of (German) Islamic Terrorism[/url]

Add Comment

E-Mail addresses will not be displayed and will only be used for E-Mail notifications.

To prevent automated Bots from commentspamming, please enter the string you see in the image below in the appropriate input box. Your comment will only be submitted if the strings match. Please ensure that your browser supports and accepts cookies, or your comment cannot be verified correctly.
CAPTCHA

Form options