Al-Qaeda 'jackals' plan attack on German parliament: report
Two Al-Qaeda 'jackals' have gone to ground in Berlin in preparation for a bloody attack on the German parliament, Der Spiegel magazine said in its edition to be published Monday.
Quoting police sources, Der Spiegel said the attack would involve a bid to seize hostages in Berlin's historic Reichstag building.
Germany's Federal Crime Office (BKA) was informed of the plans in several telephone calls from a jihadist abroad, who reportedly wanted to quit an extremist group, the magazine said.
The head of the BKA, Joerg Ziercke, Saturday declined to comment on the report, but acknowledged that "symbolic targets in Germany might well be targeted".
Spiegel's report comes just days after Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere warned of a heightened threat of Islamist attacks on German territory.
Barriers have been erected around the Reichstag as part of increased security measures which include the deployment of armed police at airports and railway stations.
The Reichstag is home to parliament which, in Germany, is directly responsible for the army and its deployment in Afghanistan.
Der Spiegel said the attack was to be carried out by a unit of six men, according to the informer.
Two arrived six to eight weeks ago in Berlin where they have gone into hiding, in the manner of the international assassin, known only as the "Jackal", depicted in a 1971 novel by Frederick Forsyth.
Four others -- a German, a Turk, a North African and a man whose identity was unknown to the informer -- were still waiting to enter the country.
The attack was allegedly planned for February or March.
Der Spiegel said De Maiziere was also told by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation two weeks ago of a planned attack by a Shia Indian group which was cooperating with Al-Qaeda and which planned to send two men to Germany.
De Maiziere had said Wednesday new attacks were being planned in Germany, including one this month, causing a "new security situation" in the country.
"From today, there will be a visible police presence. I thought it should be explained to citizens," he told a press conference in Berlin.
"There is reason for concern, but no reason for hysteria," he added.
"Since the middle of 2010, the security services have noticed increased indications that the terrorist organisation Al-Qaeda has been planning attacks in the United States, in Europe and in Germany.
"We now have more details and indications of danger.... It is the unanimous assessment of the security services that we are currently dealing with a new situation."
© 2010 AFP