1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Security state

September 10, 2011

Chancellor Merkel has said Germany faces an ongoing terrorist threat that requires strong governmental measures. Her comments followed the arrest of two men in Berlin on suspicion of plotting a bomb attack.

German policeman stands guard outside of Islamic cultural center.
German police say they foiled a plot in Berlin on ThursdayImage: picture-alliance/dpa

International terrorism continues to pose a threat to Germany's security a decade after the attacks in New York and Washington, DC, on September 11, according to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Merkel said in an interview published Saturday by the Berlin daily Tagesspiegel that fundamentalism was "as before a very real threat," adding that Germans "must remain vigilant and work together to confront this threat."

Merkel said in a televised interview on Friday that the tightening of security laws, which has been criticized for restricting civil liberties, was a necessary measure to protect the German people from an attack.

"I am prepared to accept stronger controls," Merkel told RTL. "We passed laws that brought previously unforeseen restrictions with them ... In my personal view, that's necessary in order to protect the free lives of the majority of people."

Merkel's interior minister, Hans-Peter Friedrich, said the arrests showed that German anti-terror laws were working and needed to be extended when parliament debates them later this month.

"I believe that these laws are indispensable and also have played a part in each anti-terror success - not just in this case but in previous ones as well," Friedrich said in an interview on German public television.

Unclear target

Merkel's comments came just hours after police arrested a 24-year-old German man with a Lebanese background and a 28-year-old from the Gaza Strip in Berlin on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack.

German chancellor Angela Merkel
Merkel believes terrorism should be confronted with broader governmental powerImage: picture-alliance/dpa

Police believe the suspects, who had ordered chemicals that could be used to build explosives, were planning a bomb attack. The exact target, however, remains unclear.

In response to the arrests, members of Merkel's center-right Christian Democrats (CDU) have called for broader powers to search and store private data in order to identify suspected terrorists and foil plots.

"The arrests show that the terrorist threat in Germany remains - as before - very high," said CDU parliamentary chief Volker Kauder.

Kauder criticized the CDU's coalition partner, the Free Democrats (FDP), for opposing broader powers.

The FDP has to finally give up its resistance to data retention," he said.

Last year, Germany's constitutional court overturned a law that would have required telecommunications companies to save electronic data for six months. The EU had issued a directive in 2006 calling on member states to draft data retention legislation.

Interior Minister Friedrich, however, implied he hoped this issue would be revisited, saying it was ineffective to study suspects' activity after either arresting them or officially placing them under investigation.

"Then I don't know what was happening last week, I don't know about two months ago, I don't know who he was calling four weeks ago - and of course, those are the interesting things," Friedrich said. "We must be watchful. The terror threat in Germany has probably increased in the 10 years since 9/11, not decreased. And for that reason, I would say that watchfulness is the price of freedom."

Author: Mark Hallam, Gabriel Borrud (Reuters, dpa, dapd)
Editor: Sean Sinico