Minister's terrorism views still causing a stir

10th July 2007, Comments 0 comments

10 July 2007, Berlin (dpa) - Suggestions by German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble for draconian anti-terrorism laws, including the targeted killing of suspects, continued to provoke criticism Tuesday.

10 July 2007

Berlin (dpa) - Suggestions by German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble for draconian anti-terrorism laws, including the targeted killing of suspects, continued to provoke criticism Tuesday.

Schaeuble called for legal powers to intern terrorist "combatants" before they struck and said that Germany might have to introduce a US-style criminal offence of conspiracy to commit a crime.

The minister, who outlined his thoughts in the news magazine Der Spiegel, also proposed a ban on the use of the internet and mobile phones by people the state considers dangerous.

"The minister's views cannot be taken seriously. If you want freedom you have to accept risks," said Dieter Wiefelspuetz, a Social Democratic Party (SPD) internal affairs expert.

Peter Struck, SPD parliamentary floor leader, said Schaeuble's suggestion that it might be appropriate to kill a terrorist suspect "is completely unacceptable."

"Germany's security forces don't need a license to kill," said a source in Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), which shares power in a "grand coalition" with the SPD.

Opposition Greens party leader Claudia Roth called on Schaeuble to resign, saying he was talking like a "minister of war" by raising the issue of "political killings."

Schaeuble, a member of Merkel's party, defended his views, saying in a television interview: "You must take risks to defend liberty, but you can't just sit back and do nothing either."

The minister, who has been confined to a wheelchair since being injured in a knife attack in October 1990, is considered the hardliner in Merkel's cabinet.

Since assuming office at the end of 2005, he has increased surveillance and approved a special database to store information on suspects. He also favours a greater role for the German armed forces in domestic security.

Schaeuble's latest proposals came in the wake of the failed car bomb attacks in London and Glasgow. Germany had a similar scare in July last year when authorities defused two suitcase bombs Islamic militants placed on trains.

"It was a stroke of luck that the suitcase combs failed to explode in Cologne. We can't always count on that," Schaeuble told Der Spiegel. "The intelligence services and the federal police must do everything possible."

The minister's views were not part of any current government policy, a government spokesman said on Monday. But "there shouldn't be a ban on ideas over how to fight terrorism," he added.

Schaeuble has in past launched trial balloons in order to gauge public feeling about controversial topics, such as allowing the German air force to shoot down passenger planes hijacked by terrorists.

"The minister's calculation is simple," the Leipziger Volkszeitung said Tuesday. "Whoever hopes to gain aerial supremacy over the political parties that have been shaken up by the left has to dictate public opinion."

"But if the only thing that comes out of such trial balloons is hot air, then it is best for them to remain on the ground," the newspaper said in an editorial.

DPA

Subject: German news

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