Terrorism can hit close to home, even in Stuttgart community

Some people may think that a terrorist attack can’t occur in Stuttgart, but terrorism remains a threat everywhere, even here. In 2007, the U.S. intelligence interception of suspicious communications between Pakistan and Stuttgart led to the arrest of three suspected Muslim militants accused of plotting massive car bomb attacks against Americans.

According to a Sept. 7, 2007, Los Angeles Times news story, “The suspects wanted to kill as many Americans as possible in the process, officials said. “Probable targets of their alleged plan to build three car bombs were crowded bars, nightclubs, restaurants and airports. They chose Germany because it was their home turf and because of the large population of Americans around military bases.” Then in 2009, the Stuttgart state court convicted three men for being members of a Turkish leftist group and supporting terrorist activities. All three were leaders in the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front, according to Deutsche Welle, a German broadcasting conglomerate. And last year in March, Arid Uka shot four U.S. Airmen outside the Frankfurt Airport, killing two of them.

Uka became radicalized on his own by reading and watching jihadist propaganda on the Internet. During his trial, “He testified he wanted to stop U.S. service personnel from going to Afghanistan after viewing a video on Facebook that purported to show American Soldiers raping a teenage Muslim girl. It turned out to be a scene from the 2007 Brian De Palma anti-war film “Redacted,” taken out of context,” according to an Associated Press report. While the attack occurred in Frankfurt, it could have easily been perpetrated by a worker at the Stuttgart Airport.

One can conclude that terrorist groups exist in Stuttgart, and that lone wolf actors are a threat anywhere. This information is not presented to scare people, but rather to open their eyes to the possibility of a terrorist attack occurring in their own community. To prevent this, ensure you are aware of what constitutes suspicious activity and how to report it.

Know the indicators of possible terrorist activities

Some common indicators of suspicious activity are people asking questions about security forces on post or  taking pictures of U.S. personnel or installations, and abandoned packages or backpacks left in heavily populated areas or near bus stops and train stations. Unusual indicators of suspicious activity include strong odors coming from a building, vehicle or sewer grate (indicating explosives), fire extinguishers that have been moved or are out of place (possible improvised explosive devices), or a vehicle with multiple propane tanks and large containers or gas cans, in a parking lot. It could be a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device.  

Anything that seems odd or out of place should be reported to the Military Police immediately.

Reporting suspicious activity

Reporting suspicious activity is critical because it helps to focus both U.S. and German intelligence assets. People often rationalize that what they are witnessing is benign, and tell themselves that they are overreacting. But every report of suspicious activity is important and may save lives. While a single person acting suspiciously or asking suspicious questions may seem unimportant, consider the possibility that your report may be the second or third of a suspicious person or odd activity in the area. 

If a report is made fast enough so that MPs or German Polizei can respond to the incident and interview the suspicious person — even if after the fact — then a clear message is sent to the person that they are being observed. If they are planning terrorist criminal activity, such a confrontation could discourage them from pursuing an attack in the area. Do your part to secure the community: know, recognize, and report suspicious activity

To report anything suspicious, contact the local MPs at 430-5262 as soon as possible. A report can also be made online at the U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart homepage at www.stuttgart.army.mil, by clicking on the iWatch or iSalute icon and submitting the report electronically.  

For more information on identifying suspicious activity, online training is available at https://atlevel1.dtic.mil/at.