Plot in Germany was a 'joke,' says terror suspect

24th November 2006, Comments 0 comments

24 November 2006, Mainz, Germany (dpa) - One of six Arab men arrested in Germany last week and accused of plotting to blow up a plane asserted in a television interview Thursday that the scheme had been a "joke." A newspaper, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung, added that prosecutors had "inflated" the incident into a plot although investigators had wanted to close the file. It said searches of homes and the arrests of the men had been carried out after four months of fruitless inquiry. Officials in Germany say the

24 November 2006

Mainz, Germany (dpa) - One of six Arab men arrested in Germany last week and accused of plotting to blow up a plane asserted in a television interview Thursday that the scheme had been a "joke."

A newspaper, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung, added that prosecutors had "inflated" the incident into a plot although investigators had wanted to close the file. It said searches of homes and the arrests of the men had been carried out after four months of fruitless inquiry.

Officials in Germany say the group offered a person with a Frankfurt international airport security clearance a bribe to smuggle a bomb in a suitcase onto a plane. News reports said the group were Palestinians and had targeted the Israeli airline El Al.

Five of the group were bailed Saturday, the day after their arrest.

A Jordanian national among them spoke on SWR television, saying the group had spoken of "stirring things" by smuggling a bag onto the jet. But the discussions had been "not entirely serious."

The suspect said he had told a friend, "We'll give you money and you'll put the bag on a plane," adding, "It was a joke."

Prosecutors say the scheme, during the past summer, came to nothing because no deal was struck on the bribe. According to newspapers, the airport employee reported the approach to police. German authorities say they are hunting the "sponsors" of the attack.

The Sueddeutsche, quoting "security services," said the evidence had never been grave and the supposed "sponsors" did not exist.

It said federal police and prosecutors had decided October 23 after months of vain inquiries to search the suspects' homes, mainly so they could say they had left no stone unturned.

The paper said investigators had been worried they would lose judicial permission to continue tapping the men's telephones because the evidence was so slight.

DPA

Subject: German news

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