FRANKFURT, Germany – German security officials said Tuesday that Usama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network is still active in the country, regrouping and recruiting new militants capable of carrying out terrorist attacks.
At a gathering of European security officials in Bonn, senior members of Germany's security services echoed recent U.S. government warnings that a threat of fresh attacks remains.
Hans Beth, director of the anti-terrorism and organized crime division at Germany's BND foreign intelligence service, said intelligence officials believe bin Laden is still alive.
"We believe that bin Laden himself and several of his confidants are still around to give the impulses for attacks," Beth said, without elaborating.
He said it is not clear how many individuals or groups connected to Al Qaeda are active in Germany, but that officials suspect the group is adapting to new security measures, recruiting new militants and making itself smaller, less centralized and more secretive.
The head of Germany's national police said thousands of Al Qaeda members are active worldwide and a "noteworthy number" are in Germany.
"We believe that they are living undetected among us and are prepared to participate in strategically planned terror attacks as dictated by their leaders," said Manfred Klink.
He said his agency, the Federal Criminal Office, has 30 investigations pending against groups and individuals with suspected links to terrorism. He did not elaborate.
Several of the Sept. 11 suicide hijackers were part of a terrorist cell based in Hamburg, Germany.
Authorities in Germany are investigating whether anyone in their country was connected to an attack on a Tunisian synagogue in April that may have been the work of Al Qaeda.
Meanwhile, the Dutch secret service said in an annual report Tuesday that Al Qaeda and other Islamic extremist groups are operating cells in the Netherlands.
"In the Muslim community in the Netherlands, there is a small group of young Muslims willing to participate in the armed Islamic fight and is being prepared," the agency said.
A summary of the report gave no details of the size of the cells or how many people had been recruited.