Islamic group claims planned attack on US base
12 September 2007, Berlin (AFP) - The Islamic Jihad Union, a little-known group from Uzbekistan with links to Al-Qaeda, claims it was behind a recent plot to attack a major US base and other targets in Germany, the interior ministry said Tuesday.
12 September 2007
Berlin (AFP) - The Islamic Jihad Union, a little-known group from Uzbekistan with links to Al-Qaeda, claims it was behind a recent plot to attack a major US base and other targets in Germany, the interior ministry said Tuesday.
The group was planning to attack the US military airbase in Ramstein and was also targeting "US and Uzbek consulates in Germany," a statement from the German ministry said.
It was the first official confirmation that the Ramstein base near Frankfurt, the headquarters for US Air Forces in Europe and a key staging post for military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, was a target of the alleged plot uncovered last week.
The interior ministry said the "attacks could have been staged at the end of the year."
The claims were made on a website, the ministry said, adding it had no reason to doubt their authenticity.
The Sunni Muslim group said the aim of the planned attacks had been to put pressure on Germany to withdraw its soldiers stationed at the Termez base in southern Uzbekistan.
Germany uses the Termez base for its military operations in Afghanistan, where it has about 3,000 troops serving in the NATO-led force.
German anti-terrorist police last week arrested three suspected Islamists on suspicion of planning attacks on airports and bars and restaurants used by Americans.
Federal prosecutor Monika Harms said the cell was planning "massive" attacks.
Harms said the men -- two German converts to Islam and a Turk -- were members of the Islamic Jihad Union, but at that point gave little specific details of their targets.
The three men were seized at a rented holiday home where they had stockpiled hydrogen peroxide which they intended to use to make car bombs, prosecutors said. The same substance was used to make bombs in attacks on the London transport system in 2005.
Another suspect was reported to have vanished two days before the alleged plot was smashed.
The Islamic Jihad Union has been blamed for several suicide bombings which rocked Tashkent in 2004, including attacks on the US and Israeli embassies.
The heightened fears of an attack on US forces in Germany were illustrated on Tuesday -- the sixth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States -- when an extensive security operation was mounted at another US base in response to a telephone threat to bomb it.
Police said security was stepped up at the Spangdahlem base in western Germany after a man with a Turkish or Russian accent threatened to bomb the base with four accomplices.
Officials later played down the threat, saying they thought it was probably a hoax.
"At no point was there a real danger to people or property in the vicinity of Spangdahlem," a police spokesman said.
Subject: German news