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Wednesday, September 05, 2007


The German terrorist plot

Don't get me wrong - there are terrorists, and the people just arrested in Germany quite likely are the real thing, with real murder of innocent civilians in mind. But that doesn't justify false reporting and hyping, starting with this incredibly misleading headline: "Germany foils 'massive' attack on US citizens."

First of all, the headline implies at attack was practically in progress. The facts (as I'll come to in a minute) are hardly that. And the alleged targets were Frankfurt airport, hardly a place where an attack would be focussed on "U.S. citizens," and the US military base in Ramstein, which seems highly unlikely to be penetrated by people using a suicide car bomb.

But about those targets? German Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung asserted that the threat had been "imminent". But the same article informs us that Deputy Interior Minister August Hanning told journalists that "there were no concrete targets," without which it seems rather unlikely that any attack was "imminent." And that business about Frankfurt airport? That's pure speculation by the German police, according to Hanning.

Unlike other recent terrorist scares, this group actually had amassed explosives, and was clearly hoping to do something, somewhere. But a "massive," "imminent" attack on "US citizens"? Hardly.

Update: An AP article sheds further light on that "imminent" attack:

As a token of the intense surveillance by German police, prosecutors said that during the investigation they were able to replace the dangerous peroxide in the containers with a harmless solution without the knowledge of the suspects.
So that "attack" was not only not imminent, it would also have been a complete dud.

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