German police seize plane, detain terror suspects
Police arrested two Somali-born men after stopping a Dutch plane taking off from Cologne-Bonn airport.
Berlin -- German police arrested two terrorist suspects on board a Dutch airliner Friday, minutes before it was due to take off from Cologne-Bonn airport for Amsterdam.
A police spokesman said a Somali man aged 23 and a 24-year-old German born in Mogadishu were escorted off the KLM Flight 1804 at 6:55 am (0455 GMT).
The two men had been under observation for several months. A search of their apartment had turned up farewell letters in which they declared their readiness to die in a jihad or holy war, the police spokesman said.
In Amsterdam, KLM spokeswoman Ellen van Ginkel confirmed the arrests, but denied that police had stormed the aircraft.
"After the doors had closed and the plane was ready for departure, the German border police re-opened the doors and arrested two men," Van Ginkel said.
"Then, all passengers were let out of the plane and all luggage was also taken out and checked outside," Van Ginkel added.
The plane ultimately left 70 minutes behind schedule and landed safely in Amsterdam at 9:17 am.
The arrests came a day after police appealed to the public to help track down two missing Islamists, one of them a German convert, who were suspected of membership in a terrorist group called the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), often described as a successor to al-Qaeda.
Police said they were pursuing about 20 leads related to Eric Breininger, a 21-year-old German, and Houssain al-Malla, a 23-year-old Lebanese, were last seen in the zone along the Pakistan-Afghan border. Police suspect they might have secretly returned to Germany.
Police said Breininger, who is from Saarland state in the west of the country, had recorded an internet video in which he spoke of carrying out a suicide attack and supported jihad or holy war.