We are well armed now. I had warned about the danger of an attack by Al-Qaeda a week before September 11. The magnitude of the attacks could not be foreseen. I also believe that the fight against Islamic terrorism will last centuries.
I think that the role of Germany in terrorism is more important than what people believe; it is no coincidence that our country served as a training and retreat site for Hamas and Hezbollah. This also has to do with the large number of people from the East to whom we granted asylum. The difficulties faced with Islamic terrorists are easier to overcome in a federal system than in one that has a centralized structure of security.
I am not satisfied yet with the common work done in Europe and with the United States. I have held this post for 17 years and I never received any information about any suspect with intentions to attack us, although we know that it has happened sometimes. We know that, although the United States gladly receives information, they do not like to transmit any. Had the common work with federal agents been effective, we would have already seen the results.
We need an anti-terrorist database. Low Saxony proposed it but it was rejected by the green-reds. Islamic terrorism of that magnitude dates back to 2001 and we all agreed during the Conference of Erfurt on terrorism. The new center for the war on terror in Berlin is something positive but there is no common work between the police and the information sources.
The army should help the police doing certain tasks like taking care of security during sports events. The US soldiers’ accommodations have been protected by the Bundeswehr during the war in Iraq because I have lacked the necessary personnel to do it. It also the best prepared force of the world to fight against bacteriological or chemical weapons.

Welt an Sonntag (Germany)

Kampf gegen den Terror dauert noch Jahrzehnte”, by Günther Beckstein, Welt an Sonntag, September 11, 2005. Text adapted from a crossed interview with Otto Schily.