After the arrest of suspected "IS" terrorists in Germany, politicians and police are urging calm. Yet many are concerned about the upcoming Euro 2016 soccer championship, Marcel Fürstenau reports from Berlin.
Fear will be a part of the games in France that begin on June 10 as part of the Euro 2016 soccer tournament. That's true even for those fans who'll be watching from afar in Germany.
Many spectators might feel uneasy about cheering on their team at a public viewing events, like those previously held at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Memories of the attacks in Paris, which took place during a match between France and Germany last November, will be in the air. The fears are especially heightened now after the most recent arrests of three terror suspects in the states of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Brandenburg and North-Rhine Westphalia.
Johannes Dimroth, spokesperson for the Federal Ministry of the Interior on Friday said the level of danger in Germany "remains high." With a view to the Euro 2016 soccer tournament, he said that those at both the federal and the state level have been in talks regarding the security situation for "a long time." They aren't just concerned with Islamism, said Dimroth, "but hooliganism too."
Previous experience has shown that soccer fans prone to violence tend to use large-scale events as a stage for their attacks on the fans from other teams or against authorities. One of the worst such incidents took place in 1998 during the World Cup in France; when officer Daniel Nevil experienced life-threatening injuries after an attack by German hooligans.
Security concepts being developed for Euro 2016
Public safety officials have the responsibility for ensuring security at public showings of Euro 2016 games, said Dimroth. A special unit created by the Ministry of the Interior to fight extremist terrorism, the Terror Defense Center, or GTAZ, is tasked with compiling a general threat assessment.
According to police, the suspected terrorists were planning a suicide attack on a busy road in downtown Düsseldorf
At their office in Berlin's Treptow neighborhood, security officials at both the federal and the state level exchange information daily. These officials are from the police as well as a from different intelligence agencies, along with the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), the intelligence service Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) and the Federal Prosecutor's Office (GBA).
The investigations against the three alleged "Islamic State" (IS) arrested over a plot to attack the city of Düsseldorf are being merged under the supervision of Peter Frank, head of the GBA. Beyond that, the government remained mum about the suspects and their plot on Friday. Dimroth instead referred to the number of people suspected of being capable of terrorism, exactly 499, from the known spectrum of Islamists who are thought to harbor terrorist sympathies.
Düsseldorf mayor: Life must go on as usual
In spite of the arrests on Thursday, the government said it was "too early" to upgrade the terror warning level.
The Syrians who have been arrested were, according to media reports, said to have arrived as refugees in Germany. In light of this, Dimroth said they will be verifying those who arrive "with increased gravity."
In an interview with DW, chairman of the German Police Union, Rainer Wendt, warned against putting all refugees under suspicious as a result of these arrests. These people have for the most part been those who are fleeing the "Islamic State" in Syria, he said. And of course, "IS" has a "strategic interest" in upending the mood in Germany.
Even Düsseldorf's mayor Thomas Geisel called for prudence. "This can't get in the way of everyday life," he told public broadcaster ARD.