Friday, September 03, 2004

Germany warns of major al-Qaida attack on U.S.

New York Times

BERLIN — The leader of Germany's foreign intelligence agency warned Tuesday night of an increased likelihood of a major terror attack by al-Qaida in the weeks before the American presidential election.

"There is fear of a big attack on America by the terror organization al-Qaida before the presidential elections in November," August Hanning, director of the Federal Intelligence Service, said in a speech in Heidelberg, Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported.

Hanning said that in the last few months al-Qaida had realigned its organizational structure and personnel resources and that the likelihood of terror attacks was "bigger than ever before, " the news agency reported.

Countries that were allies of the United States or supported the war in Iraq were the most likely targets for al-Qaida attacks, but American institutions in Germany, which has opposed the war, were also under threat, he said.

Rolf Tophoven, director of Germany's Institute for Terrorism Research and Security Policy, said Hanning's warning should be taken seriously.

"The inside information of the German Federal Intelligence Service is very good, especially when it comes to militant Islamists," Tophoven said.

"Either the Germans have better intelligence findings than the American intelligence agencies or we are dealing with a case of psychological warfare against the terrorists," he said.

The intelligence service, he said, "tries to disorient the terrorists by telling them: 'We know exactly what you are up to. Just because nothing happened during the European soccer championship and the Olympic Games in Athens doesn't mean we've become less alert now.' "

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