Five to eight German nationals were killed on 5 October in a CIA drone strike in Pakistan’s tribal region bordering Afghanistan. The strikes were apparently part of a stepped-up CIA campaign said to be targeting credible threats of attacks on Europe by al-Qaeda. The strikes coincide with the US issuance of a Europe-wide terror alert said to be linked to intelligence that came from an Afghan-born German militant. The German nationals killed were reportedly of Arab and Pakistani origin. Washington reportedly has given Germany precise information on potential terrorist targets, including the central railway station and the television tower, as well as the Brandenburg Gate. While Washington is flooding the press with serious terror alerts for Europe, European officials are more sober.
Analytical Note: The drone attacks spiked in September, mostly in Pakistan’s tribal North Waziristan, and have continued their momentum since. Pakistani officials refute Washington’s claims of the numbers of ‘foreign’ fighters operating in the region. The timing of the US terror alert could be suspect: terror attack fears could boost the case for increased defense budgets. But it could also be a move designed to force Pakistan to take swifter action against militants in its own backyard. Europe should take the warnings seriously, but reactions should be sober and with precedents in mind.