Terror threat to Germanyruled out after Rau trip scare
24 March 2004
BERLIN – German President Johannes Rau was heading back to Berlin a day earlier than planned after warnings of an assassination attempt against him in Africa, but Interior Minister Otto Schily dismissed any immediate terrorist danger to Germany itself.
Rau was to have visited German naval troops in Djibouti on Wednesday on the final day of a nine-day tour of Africa which had previously included Nigeria and Tanzania.
But late Tuesday in the Tanzanian capital Dar es Salaam, Rau announced cancellation of the Djibouti visit after repeated intelligence warnings about a possible attempt on his life.
Rau said that the first terrorist warnings were given two or three days earlier, but the warnings were stepped up on Tuesday.
According to the intelligence, a murder attempt was planned on a leading representative of a Western government.
German government and security services regarded the information as serious and believed the president faced a high personal risk if he had travelled to Djibouti, Rau’s office said. Also, the safety of Rau’s delegation and of the German soldiers could not be guaranteed.
Rau had planned to visit German naval forces on the frigate “Augsburg” patrolling off the coast of the Horn of Africa as part of the international war against terrorism.
Wednesday morning in Berlin, Interior Minister Schily told German television ARD that he believed there was no link between the threats against Rau and any possible terror threat to Germany itself.
Schily said he regarded the threats against Rau as being more of a “regional” nature, but he did say that vigilance against terrorism remained necessary.
“We must adjust to the fact that such attack warnings extend to Europe. We must take them seriously,” Schily said, in remarks on the same day that Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder was due to attend memorial services in Madrid for the victims of the terrorist bomb attacks.
Subject: German news