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February 25, 2009



Don't make any false moves!

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Somewhere in the city of Aachen, near the border with Belgium, are a couple of Germans who may be having second thoughts about idolizing their nation's commandos. As reports have it, they – shall we say – came to the attention of the local police one day earlier this month for nothing more than a bit of harmless play. Germany maintains an elite Army special forces unit (Kommando Spezialkräfte), a Navy team (Kampfschwimmer), and one each in the Federal Police and Customs Service. Admission standards are rigid, training is tough, and discipline is strict. There's a premium on courage. So the two adopted quite an example for themselves when they set out to have some fun, skulking about their neighborhood dressed, as their heroes might, in black masks that hid their facial features except for eyes, noses, and mouths. And that's when suspicious onlookers called the cops. Eight cruisers raced to the scene, sealing off the streets. Officers with attack dogs on the leash closed in as the suspects were crawling underneath some shrubbery near a fenced-in industrial site. Cornered, the quarry stood and held their arms up in surrender. They were told to pull off the masks, and it was at that point that the police discovered they'd just rounded up a 12- and a 13-year-old pretending to be basically ... police. A spokesman for the force explained that there had been a series of thefts of scrap metal recently, and this looked as though it could be another in the making. At last word, prosecutors weren't thinking of filing charges against the boys "to spare their parents any cost." But perhaps also to avoid having the case laughed out of court.

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