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Germany tightens security net

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Police are to get extra powers but civil rights groups are angry  


FRANKFURT, Germany -- Tighter anti-terrorism measures are to be introduced in Germany in the wake of the hijack attacks on the United States.

The package will include upgrading identification cards for non-nationals living in Germany but Interior Minister Otto Schily did not say whether fingerprint information would be added to IDs as had been suggested.

Germany has been one of the main focal points of the investigation into the September 11 strikes after it was emerged that three of the suspected hijackers had lived in Hamburg.

The government has pledged an extra $1.4 billion next year for a security crackdown.

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The new anti-terror plans were agreed only after days of argument over how to prevent terror attacks being planned or executed in Germany while protecting civil liberties.

Kerstin Mueller, parliamentary leader of the Greens, told reporters: "We want it to be the mildest option possible."

Details of the new security measures have not yet been disclosed.

Schily has attracted wide-ranging criticism in Germany from civil rights groups after reports that he wanted federal police to have the right to carry out searches without a court warrant.

Legal experts in Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's centre-left coalition of Social Democrats and Greens have warned against giving the police powers, arguing they are forbidden by Germany's post-war constitution.

Justice Minister Herta Daeubler-Gmelin, a member of Schroeder's Social Democrats, said: "I just don't think it's necessary."

Sixteen civil rights groups issued an appeal against the plan, questioning its efficiency and warning Schily against "bringing citizens under control by deliberately generating panic about security."

Mohamad Atta, the suspected leader of the hijack gangs, Ziad Samir Jarrah and Marwan al-Shehhi, both of whom had flying lessons in Florida, had all spent time in Hamburg. All three studied at Hamburg Technical College University.

In what was the first police operation outside the U.S. in connection with the September 11 attacks German police a searched Hamburg apartment after a request from the FBI.

The new measures, which the government hopes will come into force next month, It is in addition to a package agreed in the immediate aftermath of the hijack attacks.

Under that package officials are allowed to outlaw any religious organisations in Germany that abuse their status to engage in criminal activities.



 
 
 
 


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