At first glance, this black suitcase seems perfectly ordinary – until you look inside. It contains all the component parts needed for a bomb: a large butane gas bottle, an alarm clock as a timed fuse, bottles of cornflour and several cables connecting it all together.
On July 31st, 2006, two young men carrying suitcases like this boarded two regional trains of the lines RE1 and RB5 at Cologne Central Station, disembarking again shortly afterwards. When the fuses went off at 2:30 p.m., nothing happened, as the bombs had been constructed incorrectly. Afterwards, the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation determined what could have happened: a 15-metre fireball would have derailed the trains, injuring and killing dozens. Both perpetrators were Islamists incensed by caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad that had appeared in German newspapers shortly beforehand. Like other people and groups with extremist political stances, they rejected Germany’s basic order of democracy and freedom. They were not only prepared to accept the deaths of many, but actively planned them in order to achieve their radical goals. These terrorist attacks strike the state where it is most vulnerable: its citizens’ need for safety.