On December 7, staff in the post room at the Deutsche Bank headquarters in Frankfurt identified a suspicious package while x-raying mail. Police were called and disarmed the device.

The package/letter was addressed to the Deutsche Bank CEO Josef Ackermann and had a return address on the back stating it had come from the European Central Bank. Police have released few details of the actual make up of the device, but it has been reported that it was contained in an A5 size envelope and police confirmed it consisted of a low explosive mixture including firework propellant and that it was a viable device (i.e., capable of detonating).

Mr. Ackermann is seen as a “symbol of capitalism” in Germany, and there has been a great of deal of controversy and criticism of his time at Deutsche Bank. He was recently awarded a “negative prize” by an anti-lobbying group in relation to allegations about deals cut with the German Chancellor over attempts to save Greece from bankruptcy.

Police have released no details at this time of who they believe may have been responsible, and there has been no claim of responsibility, but a wide range of suspects have been speculated about by others, ranging from Al Qaeda to disgruntled employees. However, from the details made public so far, it would appear that this device is similar to those recently sent by the Italian anarchist group Informal Anarchist Federation (FAI) and the Greek anarchist group Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire.

Added to the similarity on makeup is the current high profile of senior bank officials in protest movements (Deutsche Bank headquarters is the primary target of Occupy Frankfurt) and the fact that December 6 is a very emotive date for anarchists across the world – the third anniversary of the shooting of a young Greek anarchist in Athens by Greek police, an incident which caused major rioting at the time and has continued to do so on the anniversary of the incident. There have historically been vandalism and arson incidents involving anarchists on this anniversary in several different countries. This device could have been intended to arrive on December 6 and been delayed an extra day in the post.

There have been no recent anarchist letter/parcel bomb attacks in the United States, but there have been several in Europe and Mexico in the past two years causing one fatality and two serious injuries. Targets have included Embassies, Universities, Law Enforcement personnel, scientists working on nano-technology and an office connected to nuclear energy in Switzerland.

The method of initiation of this device has not been released, but normally, letter/parcel devices are designed to detonate when opened or when the contents are pulled from the envelope. This incident again demonstrates the importance of effective mail screening processes at businesses likely to be at risk from this type of attack.

Post Script: Following the writing of this blog, German police confirmed that a letter was found inside the device confirming the involvement of the Informal Anarchist Federation and stating there would be “three explosions against bankers, banks, fleas and bloodsuckers.” This indicates there may well two further devices in the postal system.

  • Sam Rosenfeld

    Additional Postscript: The second incendiary device detonated today in an Italian tax office.