Terrorism 'radiating' from Iraq - German spy chief



BERLIN (Reuters) - German intelligence fears terrorism is "radiating" from Iraq around the Middle East and expects further attacks across the region, its spy chief said on Monday.

"We fear developments in Iraq are radiating outwards," foreign intelligence chief August Hanning said in brief comments to Reuters.

He said it was possible that an intensification of insurgent attacks on Iraqi security forces and the U.S.-led coalition was encouraging like-minded militants to step up attacks in the wider region as well.

Hanning cited bombings that killed 64 people last month in Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, and security alerts in recent days forcing cruise liners carrying Israeli tourists to divert from Turkey to Cyprus.

In other developments in the region, Jordan last week arrested 17 suspects over an alleged plot to attack U.S. military personnel on leave from Iraq.

And Australia and Britain warned on Monday of imminent attacks in Saudi Arabia, where the United States has closed its diplomatic missions for two days in response to threats.

Asked earlier at a news conference if Germany had its own intelligence on a threat to the kingdom, Hanning said: "We see the situation in Saudi Arabia in connection with developments in Iraq, Egypt, and not least Pakistan and Afghanistan."

He added: "There are no grounds to give the all clear. On the contrary ... we are reckoning with an intensification of the situation in the region as far as terrorism is concerned."

Germany opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and its security chiefs have repeatedly voiced concern since then that the war-torn country was becoming a magnet for terrorism and a recruiting card for al Qaeda.

Interior Minister Otto Schily told the same news conference he did not see a heightened threat of terrorist attacks in Germany itself in the run-up to parliamentary elections on Sept. 18 but that the country would not lower its guard.