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Prosecutors in Germany and Austria disagree, however, on whether Thomas M. was actually planning to attack the German parliament. While the speaker for Austria’s interior ministry would not comment on the plot to destroy Germany’s Reichstag for the second time in its history, the Viennese public prosecutor’s office is continuing its investigation in this direction. But a German public prosecutor said that while “the suspicion originally existed [for the attack], the results of the present investigation do not however confirm it.” But German investigators, the prosecutor said, would not exclude the possibility of a terrorist plot against the Reichstag, since the investigation was just beginning.
Playing down the threat of a terrorist attack against the Reichstag is nothing new for German authorities. Last fall, German security officials feared a storming of the parliament building by an Islamist terrorist commando that was reported to include German converts, causing the building’s temporary closure. The plan was to take hostages and cause a bloodbath. Another version of the plot, reported in German papers, was a bomb attack using a cell phone to set off the explosion. After these reports, German officials went to work to soothe the public.
“There is no reason to panic,” said the president of Federal Crime Office (Germany’s FBI) at the time. “There is no reason to cancel any public event. I’m going in any case with my children to the Christmas market.”
But an attack on the German Reichstag was, and is, a distinct possibility. Next to passenger airplanes and commuter trains, embassies and parliament buildings seem to hold a fascination for al-Qaeda and its death cult allies. Islamist terrorists have attacked the parliaments of India and Kashmir, while an al-Qaeda inspired group in Toronto was going to attack the Canadian parliament in Ottawa with the added touch of beheading the Canadian prime minister afterwards.
In perhaps the most horrific Islamist plot involving a national legislature, the Ugandan newspaper The Monitor reported in 2007 that an Islamist terrorist group was going to attack Uganda’s parliament and assassinate Queen Elizabeth, when she was making a speech there. The terrorists were going to steal two Uganda Broadcasting Corporation vans and use them to gain access to the venue. But God, and good security, saved the Queen.
Like the above-mentioned plots, an attack on the Reichstag would have garnered sensational worldwide media attention for the Islamists while emphasizing the vulnerability of the civilized world and its prized institutions. Another sensational and underreported al-Qaeda terrorist plot, believed to have been personally drawn up by the late and greatly unlamented Osama bin Laden, had the same goal. Al-Qaeda-linked Algerian terrorists planned to assassinate English soccer star David Beckham and murder the American national soccer team in its hotel during the 1998 World Cup in France.
An Islamist terrorist attack on the Reichstag, if successful, would also have an effect that no one could ever properly evaluate. Thankfully, timely intervention by competent intelligence officials prevented any such catastrophe. But as long as al-Qaeda and its murderous allies and converts are still around, vigilance will always be the watchword.
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