Jacob Heilbrunn

Terrorism in Germany Against the American Military

Terrorism in Germany is not new. During the Weimar Republic, terror was routinely practiced, as mainstream politicians were murdered or beaten. Then, in the 1960s, the Red Army Faction (RAF) arose. Several generations, aided by the East German secret police, or Stasi, devoted themselves to targeting what they saw as western imperialism. The RAF, among other things, detonated a car bomb at Rhein-Main Air Base in 1985. "We are not misty-eyed social workers," the terrorist organization announced.


As the shooting of four members of the American Air Force who had arrived in Frankfurt airport from England reminds us, terrorism continues to flourish in Germany. The new threat, of course, comes from Islamic radicals. Hamburg is where the 9/11 plot was hatched. In March 2010, four converted Islamic radicals who belonged to the group Islamic Jihad Union were convicted of seeking to attack American military facilities. Now a Kosovar Islamic radical, the twenty-one year-old Arid U. who worked for the German post office at the airport, has apparently murdered two Americans and injured another two. The question surrounding his action is whether he is an isolated killer or part of a wider plot.

The Kosovo problem, in other words, may be coming back to haunt America, in ways that it did not anticipate. The danger presented by Islamic radicals in Kosovo has always been apparent. Is there a wider problem emanating from radical Kosovo organizations that are intent on targeting the American military? Did the killer have lethal ties back home? Or is this shooting the work of a loner, who had publicized his intention to go "amok" on radical internet sites. Nevertheless, the attack was carefully planned, as the pilots were dressed in civilian clothes and the shooter was familiar with their time-tables.

As it is, terrorism in Germany has mutated into the work of Islamic radicals, whether homegrown or foreign. Now, as then, American soldiers remain the target of delusional killers who believe that they are battling imperialism by engaging in murder.