Europe faces ‘long period of terror’ – German police official

Police control the access to the central train station following Tuesday's bomb attacks in Brussels, Belgium, March 23, 2016 © Francois Lenoir
The head of a German police trade union says the Brussels bombings are an “alarm” and Europe now faces a “long period of terror.” EU police and security forces, he urged, must be better prepared, properly equipped and guided from a unified “defense center.”

“We have to bear in mind a long period of terror,” Rainer Wendt, chief of the German police trade union, told Passauer Neuen Presse newspaper on Thursday. The terror attacks in Brussels that claimed lives of 31 and injured at least 260 have been “an alarm signal for the entire Europe,” he said.

Germany, which has seen no jihadist terror attacks until recently, would surely be targeted by terrorists, Wendt warned. “London, Madrid, Paris, now Brussels. German cities will not avoid [similar attacks] in the long run as well.”

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To counter the imminent terror threat, preemptive measures are required, Wendt said, praising the German federal police for the timely creation of a new counter-terrorism elite unit. Last December, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere announced he was forming BFE+, short for Beweissicherungs- und Festnahmeeinheit plus (“Evidence collection and arrest unit plus”).

The BFE+ was said to comprise 50 operators based at federal police base Blumenberg near Berlin, with another four teams of the same strength placed across the country.

However, German police and anti-terror units have to be adequately equipped, Wendt warned, citing the urgent need to procure improved weaponry such as bulletproof vests, helmets and armored vehicles. According to him, federal police officers until recently had to drive regular Volkswagen vans even on high-risk missions, including border control.

These immediate measures may seem as a race against time, “but an increasing [terror] threat was known for years,” Wendt said.

Facing the terror threat across the continent, EU’s security agencies should increase cooperation, he added, particularly ramp up intelligence sharing among European law enforcement and justice bodies.

“We need a European defense center,” Wendt said.

Earlier on Tuesday, German Interior Minister de Maizière told ARD TV channel that European countries need a system of personal data exchange compiled by security services of the EU member states. “The external borders of the Schengen zone have too many gaps in them. We need a log which shows, who is coming in and who is leaving.

“Europe as a whole is threatened and we need common solutions to terrorism,” de Maizière said.

Germany is on high alert following the Brussels bombings. Security measures have been tightened at airports and railway stations as well as in areas bordering Belgium and the Netherlands.