‘Protecting’ the (Canadian) border

Contraband

I will admit that my family is perhaps a little more internationally-minded than the average American family, but we really were just looking for lunch when we headed into Canada one Friday.  When we were in Switzerland a regular outing would be to take the train to Germany or France for shopping and lunch.  The border was so close, just asking to be crossed.  The Schengen zone has made visa-free travel the rule in Europe, and crossing borders is as natural as a daily commute. (In fact, many border-crossers live and work in different countries)  For the USA, borders are considered a little more serious areas of security and protection.  U.S. citizens now need passports to get into Canada and back, and have long been profiled and searched while coming through land-crossings from Mexico.

Still, my troupe is fresh from Europe, with a slightly less sense of danger while around borders.  This is why we decided to take a day trip into British Columbia one day, just to find a restaurant and then head home.  In all my traveling, from Athens to Oslo to Cairo, I had never been to Canada.  So we set our plans, not knowing the interrogation to come.

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Dealing with Terrorism (Deutsch)

Police

Some months ago a journalist told me the Germans were quite naive about terrorism, and they don’t speak about it as often or at as great lengths as Americans do.  I was curious to find out if that was true, and whether a comparison could be made.  I wrote this piece for Radiowelt on Bayern2, but am not sure they ran it.  Here it is in any case.

English translation below.

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Cologne Terror Plot

(Aired on NPR Newscasts, 26Sep2008)

Police arrested a 23-year-old Somali man and a 24-year-old German citizen born in the Somali capital of Mogadishu after storming a KLM airliner bound for Amsterdam.

German police said in a published report there was no indication the two men were about to launch an attack, and the plane continued its flight to the Netherlands after an hour delay.

A police spokeswoman told the Associated Press that the authorities did not think the men planned to hijack that specific flight, but would not say whether the men were armed.  Reports in Germany say the two men were observation by police for months, and that a suicide note was found in the suspects’ apartment saying the men wanted to die for the “jihad” or “holy war.”

For NPR News, I’m Tony Ganzer in Bonn, Germany.