By JUERGEN BAETZ
Germany’s top security official said Friday the greatest terror threat to the country no longer stems from big networks like al-Qaida but from small, independent terrorist cells or “lone wolf” perpetrators.
Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich told The Associated Press that terrorist activities by Muslim extremist organizations have evolved to be decentralized, making their activities harder to track for authorities.
Friedrich is headed to Washington next week to meet with officials such as President Barack Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser John Brennan and Attorney General Eric Holder to discuss terrorism and cyber security issues.
There have been several unsuccessful or foiled attacks by Islamic radicals in Germany, and the first fatalities attributed to a Muslim extremist came last year in March when a 21-year-old Kosovo-born ethnic Albanian gunned down two U.S. airmen outside Frankfurt’s airport. The lone attacker is believed to have been inspired by watching Salafist videos online.
Salafist groups _ espousing an ultraconservative interpretation of Islam _ have recently increased their presence and followers in Germany.
One radical group attracted as much public attention as criticism from officials this month after announcing it plans to distribute millions of free copies of the Muslim Holy Book, the Quran, in Germany.
He also said cyber crime also is concerning security officials since hacking and spy attacks could target companies and the country as a whole, including its critical infrastructure.
Stuxnet _ a sophisticated virus that targeted Iranian nuclear installations _ “came as a warning to all of us that much more is already possible to be done with malware and virus programs than one had imagined,” Friedrich said.