Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

August 18, 2006

German authorities disclose rail terror plot

Filed under: Ground Transport Security,Terrorist Threats & Attacks — by Christian Beckner on August 18, 2006

German authorities today disclosed a terror plot targeted at regional trains that was disrupted several weeks ago, as reported by Deutsche Welle:

Two suitcases containing bombs and found on trains in Germany were likely to have formed part of a terrorist plot, German investigators said Friday.

The bombs were found in the German cities of Dortmund and Koblenz on July 31 with German Criminal Police Office (BKA) chief Jörg Ziercke saying that were arranged to explode simultaneously at 2:30 p.m. Neither of the bombs was detonated.

“It’s more likely than unlikely that there was a terrorist background,” Ziercke told a news conference in Wiesbaden. If the around 25-kilo (55-lb.) suitcase bombs had exploded they would have lead to “a fireball” in the train carriages and an “indeterminate number of injured and possible deaths,” he said.

Speaking in Berlin Friday, German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble also warned that Germany should brace itself for similar attempts. “Unfortunately, we must assume that the danger of a repeat of these attempted attacks.”

The recent plot that this most resembles is the Madrid bombings, which were also targeted at regional commuter trains, and detonated with near-simultaneity. German authorities released pictures of men that they believe were connected to the plot, taken from video surveillance of train stations – another proof point for the value of this technology. Coverage of the story in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (in German) notes that a menu from a restaurant in Lebanon was found near one of the bombs, a potential hint (or deliberate false lead?) about the origin of the plot.

Update (8/19): One of the suspects has been arrested.

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