German security officials have seen an increase in Al Qaeda activity on the Internet aimed at radicalizing, recruiting and training potential German-speaking terrorists, an Interior Ministry official said on Friday.
Stefan Paris, the spokesman for Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, said that “German security authorities have seen a qualitative increase in Al Qaeda activity on the Internet.”
Based on information studied online, Paris told reporters that German officials believe that Al Qaeda has rebuilt itself among the Afghan-Pakistani border region.
“We have very clearly seen that Al Qaeda increasingly uses the Internet for three components – a massive radicalization, recruiting and the spreading of technical information on how to carry out a terror attack, including construction of explosive devices.” Paris said.
He added that officials were also seeing a “clear focus on Germany,” citing an increase in the number of German-language postings from Al Qaeda over the past year.
Paris was speaking in response to a report in the German daily Die Welt, which quoted a federal official expressing fears that Al Qaeda may be planning attacks here.
“The basic decision has been made there to stage attacks in Germany,” Bernhard Falk, Vice President of the Federal Criminal Police Office, told the newspaper.
Last September, three people were arrested in the central Sauerland region on suspicion they were planning attacks on US and other facilities in Germany. Officials have alleged that they formed a cell of the Islamic Jihad Union, a group with ties to Al Qaeda.
“We have indications that, alongside the plans of the Sauerland attackers, there are with high probability several other lines of planning,” Die Welt quoted Falk as saying, without elaborating.
Paris said, however, that security authorities were not aware of plans for specific attacks.
German officials have long said that the country, which has more than 3,000 troops in Afghanistan, is a potential target. They have said that the three people arrested last year – two of them German converts to Islam – attended militant Islamic training camps in Pakistan. (AP)
Increased Al Qaeda online activity aimed at Germany