Romania faces first direct terrorist threat message

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The Romanian public and the media did not take it seriously when, on September 18th 2012, The director of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI), George Maior  underwent hearings in the pertinent committee of the Parliament, about the activity of the Service in 2011.

Briga Antiterorista a SRI, Romania's elite counter-terrorism unit.

Brigada Antiterorista – SRI, Romania’s elite counter-terrorism unit.

“With regard to the terrorist threat, I told the Committee that this threat level is increasing because of factors which I explained to the Committee, and we focus on this issue more than in other years. This is not about a direct or imminent threat, but the threat level is on the rise and you saw evolutions in Europe and even in neighbor countries related to the terrorist phenomenon, which are also concerning us,” Maior said at the conclusion of the hearing, after he presented the activity report of the institution for 2011. He added that, in 2011, Romaniastarted being affected by “cybernetic-type” threats. The Parliament Committee for the Control of SRI approved the activity report of the institution for 2011, which will be put on debate in the joint plenum, for approval. The Parliament still has to approve the SRI activity reports for the last four years.

The past days events changed the rules of the game. After a deadly explosion on a bus carrying Israeli tourists outside an airport in Bulgaria was “clearly a terrorist attack,” Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said after the July 18th attack outside the Burgas airport. Seven people were killed and about 30 wounded in the explosion in a parking lot outside Burgas Airport, on the Black Sea. The Foreign Ministry said six died and 32 people were wounded, with three in intensive care.

Friday, October 5th, Romania took it seriously. Sheikh Omar Bakri, the mastermind behind the Burgas terrorist attack, said in an interview with Bulgarian newspaper 24 Chasa, that Romania and Bulgaria may be legitimate targets of terrorist attacks, because they are Islamic lands and they fight in Afghanistan.

“When Islam enters a territory, this is considered as belonging to Islam and Muslims must free it someday. Spain is Muslim territory, Eastern Europe too, Romania, Albania, Macedonia, Serbia and Kosovo, Bosnia… Because its troops are fighting in Afghanistan, Bulgaria too is a legitimate target. We consider that terrorist attacks can be organized in Bulgaria, Romania and other states,” the sheikh said.

Omar Bakri is a radical Islamist leader of Syrian origin, connected to Al-Qaeda. In 2005, the press reported that dozens of members of his organization Al-Muhajiroun participated in suicide attacks or supported Al-Qaeda. He spent 20 years in London, then moved to Lebanon after the July 2005 attacks.

The Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Romania assumes all military commitments he made, which might upset certain Islamic leaders.

“Romania has nuclear reactors, chemical companies and many other objectives which might cause a disaster, if targeted by a smaller country or a terrorist group,” President Basescu warned in an interview with Voice of Russia, this August.

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