German police prevent 'massive bomb attacks'
05 September 2007, Berlin (dpa) - German security forces have prevented "massive bomb attacks" by arresting three Islamist terrorist suspects and seizing hundreds of kilograms of chemicals, Federal Prosecutor-General Monika Harms said Wednesday.
05 September 2007
Berlin (dpa) - German security forces have prevented "massive bomb attacks" by arresting three Islamist terrorist suspects and seizing hundreds of kilograms of chemicals, Federal Prosecutor-General Monika Harms said Wednesday.
Harms was speaking in the city of Karlsruhe after the arrest on Tuesday of two German converts to Islam and a Turkish Muslim in the small town of Oberschledorn in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia on Tuesday.
She said the three were members of the Islamic Jihad Union, which has its origins in Uzbekistan. They had undergone training in Pakistan.
Joerg Ziercke, head of the German federal criminal police (BKA), linked the Islamic Jihad Union to al-Qaeda.
He said members of the elite police unit, the GSG9, had decided to move when it became clear the suspects had initiated their bomb making and to forestall the possibility that they might be preparing to move to another location.
State and federal police had been monitoring the men for six months, he said.
Two men were arrested in the house without a struggle, while a third managed to flee 300 metres before being detained by supporting police units encircling the building.
He had attempted to seize the weapon of a police officer during a struggle, and a shot might have been fired, Ziercke suggested, although he added the details were not yet clear.
Harms would not identify the targets of the group but said US military facilities in Germany were to have been hit, apparently by detonating a series of car bombs simultaneously.
Harms said the men had accumulated 12 containers containing some 730 kilos of hydrogen peroxide, from which bombs similar to those used in London in July 2005 were to be made.
Explosives equivalent to 550 kilos of TNT could have been made, well in excess of the quantity of material used in the London attacks, although police had managed to switch some of the material making it less dangerous.
Harms stressed, however, that the men had been arrested well before they were able to make a functioning bomb.
Earlier reports, based on information from Berlin security sources, said the men had intended to hit Germany's main airport near Frankfurt and the large US airbase at Ramstein nearby.
German Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung said an "immediate threat" had been prevented.
Ziercke said monitoring the men had involved 300 officers over six months in one of the largest police operations of its kind ever seen in Germany.
He said there had been international cooperation throughout the operation and thanked the US authorities in particular.
Some 30 premises had been searched when the arrests were made Tuesday.
US military authorities at the Ramstein airbase, one of the largest US military facilities in Europe, said they had no information on a pending attack.
"We cannot confirm that Ramstein was the target," Jeffrey Gradeck, press spokesman for US command in Europe (USEUCOM), said in Stuttgart.
There was no official confirmation of speculation that the arrests could be linked to the arrest also on Tuesday of eight men in Copenhagen.
Two were linked to al-Qaeda and brought before a court in the Danish capital to be remanded in custody for 27 days, while the remaining six were released.
Subject: German news