German authorities have been closely watching persons they believe might be planning attacks on U.S. bases in Germany, according to a U.S. official.
Last month a message was circulated among some departments in the U.S. military that the German Bundeskriminalamt, or BKA, was monitoring a group of people who are believed to be planning the attacks, the official said.
Stars and Stripes learned of the message, which contains more specific details, about three weeks ago, but agreed not to release the information for fear its disclosure could compromise the German investigation. The message, known as a Be On the Lookout — or BOLO — was not publicly released or disseminated throughout the ranks.
A BKA spokeswoman reached Saturday in Wiesbaden couldn’t comment on or confirm any pending investigation.
The U.S. Embassy in Germany posted a message on its Web site Friday that Americans in Germany face an increased threat of terrorism and warned them to be on the lookout and bolster their own security. The warning did not appear on embassy sites in other European countries.
Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said German police have stepped up protective measures outside American bases. The U.S. military in Germany has not changed its force protection condition, said Navy Capt. Jeff Gradeck, a spokesman for the U.S. European Command in Stuttgart.
However, EUCOM officials announced security exercises would start Saturday night at a number of military bases throughout Europe, but did not list specific locations. The release announcing the exercises also cited the U.S. Embassy warning, but did not say whether the exercises were in response to Friday’s alert.
The exercises, called Spring Ex 2007, are designed to randomly test and evaluate force protection procedures at U.S. military installations to assure the readiness of security personnel and base residents, according to the release.
“Since September 11, 2001, we have conducted many similar force protection exercises,” Rear Adm. Richard Gallagher, U.S. European Command Director of Operations, stated in the release. “The exercises are one of many prudent measures to ensure the security and safety of our soldiers, sailors, airman, Marines, civilians, their families and our resources.”
German newspapers report Iraq-based Ansar al-Sunna, an Islamic terrorist group made up of radical Kurds, Sunni Arabs and foreign fighters, could be involved in a terror plot against U.S. bases in Germany. The German daily Der Tagesspiegel reported that American security officials warned Germany earlier this month that suspected members of the group had attempted to stake out U.S. installations in southern Germany, and that officials had information that attacks in Germany had been planned.
In its Friday warning, the U.S. Embassy refused to say if there was a specific threat against Americans.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack would not specify the nature of the threat but said the U.S. took it seriously enough to review security at the U.S. Embassy and missions across Germany.
“It is serious enough and credible enough that we believed that we were obliged to put out the warden message warning Americans in Germany to be vigilant and exercise extra caution,” he told reporters.