BILL HEMMER: The author of American Jihad: The Terrorists Living Among Us is Steve Emerson, terrorism analyst, with me now. Sir, welcome back here.
How much do you know about this group? How lethal are they?
STEVEN EMERSON: Well, the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) is an offshoot of the group that you just mentioned, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). This group, in particular, that the Germans are looking for seems to be almost a brand new group – it's been in existence, but it really hasn't carried out that many operations in the West; it has been more active in Pakistan.
HEMMER: Steve, what could they have done with these chemicals?
EMERSON: Well, considering that these chemicals were 100 times more powerful than the bomb that blew up the July 5, 05 – July 7, 05 attacks in the London subways, these could have been absolutely devastating. They were designed to carry out maximum damage if they were implanted in suicide car bombs at Ramstein Air Force Base, at clubs, at restaurants, or even at Frankfurt Airport – it could have destroyed major aircraft, it could have destroyed large parts of the Air Base, it could have killed hundreds of people. They knew what they were doing because they had obtained military-type detonators that could have easily detonated the hydrogen peroxide once it was mixed with another chemical.
HEMMER: Well, the Germans are saying they were motivated to kill as many Americans as they could, specifically at the airport – at the Ramstein Air Base where at least 45,000 Americans make a living and live there as well.
Do the Germans have any idea how deep rooted this cell might be in its own country – how many terrorists might be there living?
EMERSON: I think that they do not know. They say there are as many as 900 radical Islamic terrorists living in Germany today that are under investigation. Those are the ones that they do know. But this one – this particular cell, of which they arrested 3, had as many as 10 other members that they have not identified publicly yet – of which some of whom are in Germany , some of whom are not.
HEMMER: Now Steve, we have seen in the past where these news reports are kept quiet until all the people have been surrounded and arrested.
Did the Germans go public with this too soon, knowing that at least 5, or maybe 10, are still out there?
EMERSON: You know, that's a good question. My suspicion is that GSG-9, which is the group – the German anti-terrorist group – moved because they feared they were getting close to actually detonating the bombs and they might have feared that there were others involved, of which they did not identify, that could have been useful to the plot, in which case they would have lost control. So I think they took it to the maximum point possible without jeopardizing the security of Ramstein or Frankfurt Airport.
HEMMER: Steve Emerson, thank you for your time – live in Tel Aviv today.