Germany criticises Al-Qaeda travel warnings

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Germany's interior minister hit out Wednesday at travel warnings for visitors to Europe because of the risk of Al-Qaede attacks, saying it helped "terrorists" spread fear.

"We are taking things seriously. But public accompanying music is also something that terrorists use, because they want to spread fear," Thomas de Maiziere told radio station Deutschlandfunk.

"We are working without talking a lot."

This week the United States, Britain, Japan and Sweden issued alert warnings of the "possible terrorist attack" by Al-Qaeda and affiliated groups against their citizens travelling in Europe.

This followed reports in British and US media that said that an Al-Qaeda plot to carry out attacks in Britain, France and Germany, similar to the siege in Mumbai in 2008 that killed 166 people, had been uncovered.

The source of the threat information was a German citizen of Afghan descent captured on his way to Europe and now being held in Afghanistan, the reports said.

"At the moment we have lots of indications, including from independent sources, about activities in the Pakistani border region or plans for Germany," de Maiziere said.

"We follow up all of these leads, we ratchet up our internal measures, we are in the closest possible contact with our partners. But we work more and seriously, rather than talk about it," he said.

"How I would react if there were (a concrete danger) would depend on the security situation, my assessment of it, because the security situation and dealing with the danger to the population have priority over public statements and the question of how one looks tactically."

© 2010 AFP

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