* Italian anarchist group claims responsibility
* Two more letter bombs may have been sent
* Ackermann is high-profile symbol of German capitalism
(Adds FBI in touch with German authorities)
By Maria Sheahan
FRANKFURT, Dec 8 An Italian anarchist
group has claimed responsibility for a letter bomb sent to Josef
Ackermann, chief executive of Deutsche Bank, and may
have sent two more packages, investigators said on Thursday.
The suspicious envelope, intercepted on Wednesday evening,
has raised fears that a wave of protests against the failures
and excesses of bankers could turn more violent, and prompted
police across Europe to warn banks to be extra vigilant.
Ackermann, 63, a Swiss who is the first non-German to head
Germany's biggest bank, is one of the few senior managers in the
country always surrounded by bodyguards.
A hidden, rolled-up letter written in Italian from the
Federazione Anarchica Informale (the Informal Anarchist Group,
or FAI) spoke of "three explosions against bankers, banks, fleas
and bloodsuckers", the German investigators said.
"So it must be deduced from this that two more letter bombs
may have been sent," the Criminal Investigations Office for the
state of Hesse and Frankfurt prosecutors said in a statement.
Earlier they said initial tests had shown the letter bomb
sent to Ackermann was operational.
The FAI previously claimed responsibility for a parcel bomb
that injured two people in the offices of the Swiss nuclear
lobby group in March, as well as for parcel bombs sent to the
Swiss and Chilean embassies in Rome last year.
The group also claimed to be behind a letter bomb sent to
the European Central Bank, also based in Germany's financial
capital Frankfurt, in 2003.
A United States official told Reuters FBI agents in Germany
were in touch with German authorities about the investigation,
but that the FBI was not aware of any specific or related threat
to New York.
Security has been stepped up at Deutsche Bank offices around
the world, banking sources said. One insider said the number of
threats against Ackermann had increased in recent months and his
security would be tightened, though there were no plans to
cancel public appearances.
One banking source said that since 2006 every item of mail
sent to members of Deutsche Bank's executive committee was put
through a security check.
"We are deeply affected by the violent assault on our CEO
Josef Ackermann," a spokesman for Deutsche Bank said. Employees
heading to work, however, said they did not feel threatened.
"There are always people who think a solution would be to
make someone pay, but as an employee, I do not feel threatened,"
Stefan Popp told Reuters Television.
European leaders gathered in Brussels on Thursday to try to
agree on a way out of a sovereign debt crisis that has triggered
a wave of government austerity measures and caused Germans to
fret they may have to foot the bill.
Some experts said the euro zone debt crisis could have
prompted the attempted attack.
A letter bomb sent to Chancellor Angela Merkel last year
originated in Greece and is thought to have been linked to an
anarchist group reacting to the extreme austerity measures.
Earlier, Frankfurt's offshoot of the Occupy protest
movement, which is critical of banks and has been staging
protests in New York, Washington, London and many other cities,
denied any connection with the attempted attack.
"We condemn any action that is linked to violence," said
Frank Stegmaier, an activist in the Occupy Frankfurt group,
which has been camping outside the ECB since mid-October.
"Occupy has other ways of protesting," he added.
Before the FAI claim of responsibility, security experts had
speculated about the possible involvement of the anti-capitalist
movement in Germany which has been gaining momentum, as seen by
a number of arson attacks on the Berlin rail network earlier
"I don't think a sustained campaign against business or even
banking leaders is likely in Germany. Ackermann is a highly
symbolic target, who has personal security wherever he goes,"
said David Lea, a senior analyst for Europe at Control Risks.
Ackermann is the highest-paid chief executive of a German
blue-chip company, earning 9 million euros ($12 million) in
2010. He is chairman of the Institute of International Finance,
the bank lobbying group negotiating a private-sector
contribution toward a multi-billion euro bailout of Greece.
Due to retire as chief executive in May after more than 10
years at the head of Deutsche, he is credited with transforming
the bank into a "global champion", and has become associated
with Wall Street-style bonuses and a shareholder-driven
A previous Deutsche Bank head, Alfred Herrhausen, was
murdered in 1989 by leftist Red Army Faction guerrillas who blew
up his car.
($1 = 0.7468 euros)
(Additional reporting by Sabine Wollrab, Edward Taylor, Philipp
Halstrick, Reuters TV and Harry Papachristou in Athens, William
Maclean in London; Writing by Madeline Chambers and Gareth Jones
in Berlin, Editing by Rosalind Russell)