Second train bomber in Germany still at large

23rd August 2006, Comments 0 comments

23 August 2006, COLOGNE - Federal police chief Joerr Ziercke said Wednesday that Germany is likely to issue a wanted poster soon for a missing Lebanese youth suspected of being the second of two men who planted flawed bombs aboard passenger trains three weeks ago.

23 August 2006

COLOGNE - Federal police chief Joerr Ziercke said Wednesday that Germany is likely to issue a wanted poster soon for a missing Lebanese youth suspected of being the second of two men who planted flawed bombs aboard passenger trains three weeks ago.

Speaking to German international TV broadcaster Deutsche Welle, he said his BKA criminal-investigation office believed "with high likelihood" that the man had fled to Lebanon. On Saturday, police arrested the other suspect, Youssef Mohammad e-H, 21, also Lebanese.

Ziercke said the planned poster would use an identity photo instead of grainy video images of the men picked up by a security camera in Cologne railway station just before the attack. The hunt for the 20-year-old would also be conducted abroad.

German Prosecutor-General Monika Harms said Tuesday police had discovered the identity of the second of the two train bombers.

A forensic search of his apartment was continuing, she said, as more evidence surfaced about the radical anti-Israeli group believed to be behind Germany's closest shave yet with international terrorism. The first suspect was arrested on Saturday in Kiel, northern Germany.

News reports indicated a third youth was meanwhile detained by Kiel police on suspicion of acting as a contact person in the plot.

Harms did not initially disclose the name of the second youth who was filmed by security cameras on July 31 in Cologne carrying a suitcase-bomb aboard a provincial train. But neighbours at a Cologne apartment block said they knew him by sight.

The prosecutor-general said news reports that police had missed him were incorrect. She said there had been no attempt Tuesday to detain him, but she would obtain a warrant requiring his arrest.

Harms said the warrant would accuse him of membership in a terrorist group, attempted murder and attempting to cause an explosion. She said police were checking out his associates and those of Youssef Mohammad e-H.

Addresses around the country were being searched, she added. Television stations said premises in two cities near Cologne, Oberhausen and Muelheim-an-der-Ruhr, were raided.

A newspaper and local television said a man of Mediterranean appearance in his early 20s was detained in Kiel, apparently for interrogation over his relationship with e-H. Asked for comment, police would only say that they had mounted an operation in the area.

At the missing suspect's Cologne apartment, neighbours said they had not seen him for weeks and his mail had been piling up.

Unconfirmed news reports said he belonged to the same Lebanese group as e-H, and was aged 20.

The two youths were filmed by security cameras as they carried the bombs concealed in two suitcases aboard the trains.

Because of construction flaws, the bombs failed to explode and turned up in lost-property offices. No one claimed responsibility.

The first arrest in the case has galvanized Germans. Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said the attack was the closest call Germany has had with international terrorism. Police have not said which group they suspect was behind the attack.

But news reports Tuesday said e-H was believed to be affiliated through his clan with Hizb ut-Tahrir, a Lebanese group that is outlawed in Germany. Its name means "party of liberation."

Lebanon's military intelligence service helped Germany to catch him, a senior prosecutor said Monday.

German public television said the youth had apparently fled to Lebanon after the attack, but returned to Germany believing he would not be caught. He had phoned his family in Lebanon after seeing his own picture on TV. The call was tapped.

The website of the news magazine Der Spiegel said the discovery of a colour photo of the Iranian-funded Islamic Centre of Hamburg and its Imam Ali Mosque on the door of e-H's student room would lead to more scrutiny of that institution.

The Islamic Centre, which was run in the 1970s by Mohammad Khatami, later president of Iran, issued a statement denying any link to e-H. "He has never been here," said a spokesman at the mosque in an upmarket neighbourhood of the city.

Fellow students of e-H described him as immature, according to Der Spiegel.

"He was just a kid," they said. He is in detention in Germany's federal justice capital, Karlsruhe, in the southwest of the country.

The authorities have not yet spoken on the motives of the arrested man, described by Lebanese sources as a Sunni Moslem from the north of the country, or whether there is hard evidence of a wider group being behind the bombing attempt.

A weekly newspaper, Die Zeit, was to report Thursday that e-H had helped lead a demonstration in February in the northern city of Kiel against newspaper cartoons that depicted the Prophet Mohammed.

Copyright DPA with Expatica

Subject: German news

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