State: Leaders Face High Terror Threat at G-7 Summit

Al Qaeda, Islamic State among terrorists targeting Bavarian resort meeting

General view of Hotel castle Elmau in Kruen near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany,

General view of Hotel castle Elmau in Kruen near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany / AP

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Al Qaeda and other Islamist terrorists pose a "high" threat of attacking the upcoming G-7 summit meeting in Germany, according to a State Department security report.

"The current overall terrorist threat level to the U.S. private sector and VIP’s during the 2015 G7 summit is considered to be high," the report by the Overseas Security Advisory Council states.

Large-scale protests that could turn violent also are expected near the summit site, the report said.

World leaders, including President Obama and six others heads of state from major countries and the European Union, will gather at the Bavarian alpine resort of Schloss Elmau, about 60 miles south of Munich in southern Germany, beginning Sunday.

The remote location and increased German security will "make it very difficult to orchestrate an extremist attack at the site," the report states.

"Currently, there are no known credible terrorist threats against the event or other targets in Germany, the five-page internal report says.

"However, there are German and foreign nationals in the country who have expressed hostile views and intents towards German and U.S. interests in-country and the threat of terrorism is present in all major German cities."

Germany’s open borders with European states have made it more difficult for authorities to track terrorists.

According to the report, among the groups currently targeting U.S. government officials and private U.S. interests in Germany are al Qaeda, the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), and some 600 German nationals who have traveled to Syria to fight with rebel groups such as the Islamic State (IS).

The jihadists "are believed to pose a heightened threat to national security," the report said.

"Continued government reporting reiterates the growing concern for the expanding international and indigenous radical Islamist presence in Germany," the report said.

German authorities estimate that over 1,000 residents have been identified as Islamist extremists and some received terrorist training in camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In April, an Islamist terror plot to attack a bicycle race in Frankfurt was disrupted by German security forces, the most recent known terror plot.

Surveillance of some 260 extremists in Germany was intensified following the terror attack last January in Paris on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The report also warned that German far-right and nationalist "Islamophobic" extremists could conduct attacks on the summit.

German rightists were blamed for 175 attacks against refugees in 2014, the report said.

"In May 2015, German authorities detained four members of the ‘Old School Society,’ a far-right group allegedly planning attacks against mosques and refugee communities," the report said.

"While this type of violence is unlikely to disrupt the G7, far-right attacks may occur elsewhere in Germany during the event."

State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke had no immediate comment.

Ben Rhodes, White House deputy national security adviser, told reporters Obama will meet Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday in the town of Krun.

Summit discussion topics will include the global economy, energy and climate, and countering terrorism, Rhodes said.

On Russian aggression against Ukraine, "the leaders will certainly review the current situation in Ukraine," Rhodes said, noting that maintaining sanctions on Moscow will "serve as a deterrent to further Russian aggression."

The Iran nuclear deal currently being discussed in Switzerland also will be a summit topic, along with joint efforts to counter the Islamic State, he said.

Non-terrorist threats to the summit include large-scale protests that may turn violent.

Leftist and anti-capitalist protests are expected during the meeting, including in the nearby towns of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Mittenwald, Klais, and Oberammergau.

"The majority of the protests are expected to be peaceful, but based on the nature of the summit, they can quickly turn violent," the report said. "Indirect threats to the U.S. private sector may include collateral damage from protests at the summit, such as acts of public vandalism, defacement of private property, or violence from some demonstrators."

The main protest group organizing for the summit is a leftist group called "Stop G-7 Elmau."

"Our goal is to disrupt the G7 Summit and its preparations effectively with mass blockades," the group said on its website.

According to a group statement, protesters are targeting free trade agreements and NATO "militarization and war." They are also demanding open borders for migrants and refugees and an end to "exploitation" from the "profit driven economy" and government surveillance.

A mass rally by the group is planned for Garmisch-Partenkirchen, located some 11 miles from the summit site.

Germany is turning out thousands of security personnel for the two-day summit, including the elite counterterrorism unit known as GSG-9.

An international network of police comprised of 20,000 German, Italian, and Austrian officers, has been mobilized in the Bavarian mountain region. Due to security measures, Schloss Elmau is not allowing bookings May 22 through June 11.

The location of Schloss Elmau allows for all access points to be controlled by the authorities. A 10-mile perimeter will be set up around the site and all who enter must pass through checkpoints.

"German security and intelligence services are highly capable of providing adequate security for the G7 summit," the report said, noting, "police forces are extremely professional, with low levels of corruption and strong ethical standards."

Quick reaction counterterrorism forces, including the GSG-9, are taking part. German military forces also will be deployed in the area to deter attacks and "maintain peace" during large-scale protests, the report said.

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