Friday, March 24, 2006

Germany's intelligence chief: Israel and Europe are a single risk area for Islamist terrorism

The head of Germany's BND intelligence service, Ernst Uhrlau, made a rare public appearance today, and he had a few things to say.

According to Uhrlau, the success of Germany and other countries in hunting down terrorists has not significant reduced the threat "Islamic terrorism" poses to Europe and Israel. "In spite of numerous successful hunts for terrorists, the terrorist threat situation has eased only superficially. The bomb attacks in Madrid and London are clear evidence that Europe is no longer just a recruitment and financing area but has become a target of Islamic terrorism," Uhrlau told a conference on Islamic extremism.

"In the foreseable future international terrorism will remain one of the most serious threats to our society. More than ever before Israel and Europe as a single risk area are caught in the crosshairs of international terrorism," he said.

And unlike the foreign-born members of al Qaeda responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States, "the terrorists in Europe are homegrown and homemade."

Uhrlau also stated that the recent crisis sparked by a Danish newspaper's decision to publish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad showed there may be what he termed irreconcilable differences between Islamic and Western cultures.

"The recent controversy over Mohammad cartoons has raised the question of compatibility in principle between basic elements of Western and Muslim standards of culture. In this case, freedom of the press versus religious values.

"The fact is that such antagonism may emerge time and again in sensitive areas of identity on either side," he said. The cartoons provoked a violent storm of protests among Muslims that cost the lives of over 50 people and resulted in the destruction of millions of dollars worth of property.

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