Germany has announced plans to reduce the presence of police officers in railway stations and other public places – measures put in place after a terrorist warning in November.
Interior minister Thomas de Maiziere said the possibility of a terrorist attack on Germany remained, but the incidents which had prompted November’s warning had been resolved.
He said the heightened alert was ordered after al Qaida’s Yemeni offshoot tried to blow up two cargo planes over the United States, and after authorities received reports that Islamic extremists may be planning an attack within Germany by the end of November.
Germany has no colour-coded or numbered system for measuring security levels, as Britain and France do. It tends to be far more cautious in publicly discussing the degrees of threat, saying it could endanger efforts to prevent an attack.
The European Union now has better methods of ensuring the security of aircraft cargo than it did at the time of the plane plot, and the possible attacks within Germany had not come to pass, said Mr de Maiziere.
“I can’t say with certainty if our measures stopped an attack, but they had a good impact,” he said, adding that increased security had served both to calm the public and to show the state’s resolve to possible terrorists.
“Of course, it could be possible that they (terrorists) just waited for a few months, but if you think this way then you would be eternally engaged in psychological warfare with them,” he added.
Mr de Maiziere said that Germans continued to visit their country’s many Christmas markets and other tourist sites despite the alert, and he was proud of citizens for not being intimidated.
Though Germany has escaped any major terrorist attacks like the Madrid train bombings of 2004 and the London attacks in 2005, at least two major plots have been thwarted or failed before they could be carried out.