BONN, JAN. 8 -- Security measures at U.S. military and diplomatic facilities as well as other sites in Germany have been sharply tightening following Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's recent threat that war in the Persian Gulf could precipitate a worldwide wave of terrorism.
U.S. military television and radio broadcasts are peppered with new security reminders. It is more difficult to get onto military bases. The U.S. troops staying behind while at least one-third of their colleagues ship off to the gulf are beginning security drills. American schoolchildren are being given "bomb briefings" to show them what to do in the event of a terrorist assault.
Fear of Iraqi-sponsored terrorism is not restricted to Americans. The German parliament has called a special session for Monday to discuss the gulf situation, and issues related to the perceived terrorist threat are likely to be raised.
Concern among the Americans here stems at least partly from the fact that, of about 260,000 U.S. troops stationed in Germany before the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, more than 80,000 have been relocated to the gulf region as part of Operation Desert Shield. As a result, some Americans still living on bases in Germany have wondered whether they are adequately protected against terrorism.
Gen. Crosbie Saint, the U.S. Army commander-in-chief in Europe, went on Armed Forces Television Monday night to try to ease fears and to announce that extra guards are to be posted at U.S. facilities. Army headquarters in Germany confirmed that it has ordered all facilities in the country to step up security exercises.
U.S. service members and their families in Nuremberg and several other German cities have been asked to lock their doors and avoid visiting discos.
In a section of Bonn where American diplomats and their families live -- they call it the "ghetto" -- mailboxes have been sealed and guards have begun electronically searching cars. Bonn's American movie theater, a U.S. government-run facility that traditionally has been open to any American citizen, now admits only diplomats and military personnel.
The countdown to the United Nations' Jan. 15 deadline for Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait is being accompanied by tightened security at airports. A Bonn government spokesman said airports are imposing "the highest level of precautionary measures."
At least eight airlines have canceled flights to the Middle East. Lufthansa, the German national carrier, today announced it will send a jet to Tel Aviv to pick up Germans vacationing or living there. The Bonn government issued a warning last weekend urging all Germans to leave Israel before Jan. 15.
Israel's ambassador to Germany, Benjamin Navon, denounced the German warning today. "We think Israel and all people living there are in safety," he said.
In Frankfurt, a Delta Airlines flight bound for Atlanta was delayed three hours Monday after a security guard watching an X-ray screen saw something suspicious in a piece of luggage. A search revealed only medication and cosmetics, said Delta spokeswoman Ilse Gschweng-Pazulla. "We have very intense security procedures," she said.
But Germany is jittery enough about the threat of terrorism that Bild, the country's most popular newspaper, splashed the incident across the top of its front page, wondering in its typically sensational manner whether this was the "Iraqi dictator's first planned strike."
In addition, several cities along the Rhine River today announced plans to cancel Carnival festivities, traditional Mardi Gras-like celebrations to be held Feb. 11, if war breaks out in the gulf.
In Mainz, where Carnival was last canceled during during World War II, Carnival organizer Friedel Eberhard said, "We cannot imagine that people would enjoy Carnival if blood is flowing in the gulf."
Reuter reported from Islamabad, Pakistan:
The U.S. government offered its employees and their families in Pakistan the option of leaving because of worries about rising anti-American feeling there.
U.S. Ambassador Robert Oakley told a packed meeting of U.S. citizens in Islamabad they were not being ordered home but could leave voluntarily before Jan. 15, people who attended said.
Those attending the Islamabad meeting and others held in Peshawar, Karachi, Quetta and Lahore were told by officials that if hostilities broke out they must remain locked in their homes.
Although Pakistan has contributed troops the multinational force opposing Iraq, the presence of Western forces in the gulf region has been unpopular among Pakistanis.