A senior German official said today's bomb scare involving a Germany-bound flight out of Africa was not the cause of this week's terror alert. Instead, the official told ABC News the move was in response to specific threat intelligence and that terrorists planning an attack may already be in Germany.
In Namibia today authorities found a fuse in a bag that was destined for Germany. Authorities were trying to determine whether the device could have exploded.
The possibly alarming discovering came a one day after Germany elevated its terror alert.
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to speak candidly, said that Germany has about 200 individuals of great concern who are placed under tight surveillance, hinting that Wednesday's threat alert has more to do with people who may be inside the country. The official said Germany has not wanted to jail them yet in order to try to collect as much intelligence from them as possible and collect evidence against them. The concern, however, is how long do you let them try to plan an attack.
Though the official declined to confirm these details, the New York Times reported today that the U.S. decision to issue a travel alert for Europe last month was sparked by intelligence about 25 al Qaeda fighters, organized into cells of three to five individuals each, who had been planning "commando" attacks in Britain, France and Germany.
Since then, the paper says that about 10 of them are believed to have been killed, most by U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan. A Pakistani intelligence official told the New York Times that drone strikes in September and October had killed European recruits who intended to strike in Britain or Germany.
On Oct. 5 a western official confirmed to ABC News that German citizens were among a group of militants believed to have been killed in a recent drone strike in Pakistan.
Many of the plotters, however, are still alive, the Times reported. While several German citizens have been arrested in Pakistan in recent weeks, a European official told the paper many of the plotters may already be in place in their countries.
Germany Fears Plotters Intend to Carry Out Mumbai-Style Attack
A German intelligence official tells the paper the suspected terrorists were planning Mumbai-style attacks, but had no specific information on where or when.
On Nov. 26, 2008, teams of terrorist commandos attacked train stations, restaurants and hotels popular with businessmen and Westerners. More than 160 people were killed and more than 300 wounded.
When asked today about U.S. efforts to kill German citizens in Pakistan, the German official would only tell ABC News that Germany and the United States are fighting a common enemy and that there is very close cooperation between the their intelligence services.
ABC News' Luis Martinez contributed to this report.