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Europe

Germany, Britain, Netherlands Agree to Enhance Anti-Terror Cooperation

The threats posed by international terrorism demand international responses, officials from Germany, Britain and the Netherlands agreed. The trio said they would work together to fight Islamist extremism in Europe.

Man wearing hood carrying weapon, on texture, partial graphic

Countries can't afford not to work together to fight extremism, officials said

The governments of Germany, Britain and the Netherlands pledged to increase cooperation on countering Islamic extremism, at the opening of a joint symposium.

"It's clear that we share a common threat that demands a united response, even if the specific nature of that threat differs from country to country," British Interior Minister Jacqui Smith said. "We can learn a lot from each other, not only in how we can counter the threat, but also how we can coordinate our actions."

The symposium, organized by the German Interior Ministry in association with the British and Dutch embassies in Germany, aims to find unified approaches to the problems posed by Islamist extremism in Europe.

Sharing resources, strategies

Schaeuble stressed the importance of international cooperation in monitoring Web sites that recruit potential extremists and disseminate extremist messages.

Handcuffs and a mape of the world with @ signs

Policing the Internet requires international coordination

"Even if the mix of backward ideologies and advanced technology initially appears paradox, the Internet is an ideal platform," for those plotting acts of terror, Schaeuble said, adding that since the Internet transcends borders nations would be better off pooling their resources. "It doesn't make sense for all security authorities to look for the same messages or all try to translate the same Arab dialect."

Governments have to be aware of any sign that terrorists could be plotting, Dutch government representative Dick Schoof said.

"Where radicalism is concerned, the smallest signs are the very ones we need to see, in order to prevent the biggest consequences," he said.

Authorities, he said, worked at a community level and offered advice to "the teacher who notices a student behaving strangely," or "parents who can no longer connect with their child."

Terrorism affects all nations

A German police officer arresting a man

Two attacks in Germany have been thwarted since 2006

Specialists from the three countries will share experiences and discuss ways of cooperating to crack down on Islamist extremism, both by preventing radicalization and being better prepared against potential attacks.

In 2005, London was attacked by four men who killed 52 people and wounded around 800 others by blowing themselves up in trains and a bus. The murder of filmmaker Theo Van Gogh in 2004 increased the Dutch government's response to Islamist radicalization.

In Germany, a plot to blow up two German trains with suitcase bombs was foiled in 2006 and authorities prevented extremists from creating bombs out of half a ton of explosives in 2007.

In January, several videos were posted on the Internet in which German speakers issued threats, linked to the country's military presence in Afghanistan. Security officials also warned last month that Germany faces an increased risk of Islamist terror attacks ahead of national elections in September.

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