Terrorists had orders to strike by mid-September

10th September 2007, Comments 0 comments

BERLIN, Sept 9, 2007 (AFP) - Three suspected Islamists arrested in Germany on suspicion of plotting to bomb US targets had received orders from a contact in Pakistan to strike by mid-September, Der Spiegel magazine reported on Sunday.

BERLIN, Sept 9, 2007 (AFP) - Three suspected Islamists arrested in Germany on suspicion of plotting to bomb US targets had received orders from a contact in Pakistan to strike by mid-September, Der Spiegel magazine reported on Sunday.

The weekly said the suspected plot leader, a German convert to Islam called Fritz Gelowicz, had received a phone call from a member of the Islamic Jihad Union, a radical group linked to Al-Qaeda, in northern Pakistan at the end of August.

The man, whom Gelowicz reportedly called "chief," gave the three-man cell in Germany a two-week deadline to carry out an attack, the magazine said.

The call, as well as a slip of the tongue by a small-town policeman, prompted German security forces who had been watching the three men for months, to storm their hideaway in southwestern Germany and arrest them on Tuesday.

They were seized in Medebach-Oberschledorn in the Sauerland region at a rented holiday home where they had stockpiled 12 barrels of chemicals to use in "massive" car bomb attacks against US targets in Germany, federal prosecutors said.

A spokeswoman for the federal prosecutor said on Saturday that the suspects had imported three trucks with French licence plates.

Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung has said authorities believe an attack was "imminent," while other officials have suggested that the plot had been hatched to coincide with the sixth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

The men -- Gelowicz, another German convert to Islam and a Turk -- had been under surveillance since January.

Der Spiegel said that German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President George W. Bush had discussed the case, code-named "Operation Alberich", on the sidelines of the G8 summit in Germany in June.
Washington cooperated closely with the investigation.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Friday that Germany was put on the trail of the plotters by US intelligence services who intercepted suspicious telecommunications between Germany and Pakistan last year.

The newspaper said US services continued to intercept communications after the men were put under surveillance by German authorities.

Investigators waited as long as possible before arresting the suspects, because they wanted to gather as much evidence against them as possible, Der Spiegel said.

However, matters were brought to a head by the phone call from Pakistan and by an incident last Monday when local police stopped the three men because they were driving with a broken headlight.

The police scanned their identity documents and one of the officers exclaimed that the computer showed they were on the federal police's watch list.

He said it so loudly that federal police heard it over a listening device they had planted in the suspects' car and they then decided they had to act.

German authorities have said they are looking for seven accomplices who may have helped to plan or finance the alleged plot.

"We are investigating 10 people, including the three who have been arrested, not more," the federal prosecutor's spokeswoman told AFP.

No arrest warrants have been issued for the suspected accomplices.

AFP

Subject: German news

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