German President Johannes Rau cancelled the last leg of his nine-day trip to Africa because of credible indications that he would be attacked by terrorists. Given that he was scheduled to stop in Djibouti, where German soldiers are serving in multinational efforts to help maintain order in and around the Horn of Africa, it’s a pretty good bet that there was an Islamic component to the threat.
When Rau landed in Berlin, he looked rested and fit in a tropical-weight suit. He sounded more disappointed than worried that he had had to break off the trip, the 75th of his tenure. Just days before, he had been encouraging African leaders not only to solve their own problems, but not to let a false sense of solidarity lead them to overlook repression. This last led the ambassador from Zimbabwe to walk out in the middle of Rau’s Nairobi speech.
On the tarmac in Berlin, Rau said that the deciding factor was that the threat was not just to him, but to the people around him, and that he had a responsibility not to endanger them for his own sake. From that, I would read that the indications were of an attack against his airplane, maybe like this. German media are also reporting that the local security forces had been infiltrated, meaning any changes in route would have been quickly betrayed.
Looks like a narrow escape, and a reminder that differences over Kyoto, genetically modified crops, copyright, film subsidies, tax flimflammery or any of the dozens of things we fight about within the western world don’t matter a whit to the people who want to bring death and destruction to the peoples of the west, its leaders and its symbols.