Germany, Denmark in Anti-terror Arrests

Germany announced on Wednesday, September 5, the arrest of three people on suspicion of planning terrorist attacks, a day after the detention of eight terror suspects in neighboring Denmark.

Germany, Denmark in Anti-terror Arrests
Germany announced on Wednesday, September 5, the arrest of three people on suspicion of planning terrorist attacks, a day after the detention of eight terror suspects in neighboring Denmark.

"There was an imminent security threat," German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung told a news conference, reported Reuters.

"They were planning massive attacks," Federal Prosecutor Monika Harms confirmed.

"As possible targets...the suspects named discotheques and pubs and airports frequented by Americans with a view to detonating explosives loaded in cars and killing or injuring many people," she told a press conference.

Harms said the men, two Germans and a Turk, belonged to Islamic Jihad Union, a group with roots in Uzbekistan that is accused of ties to Al-Qaeda.

The suspects, in their 20s, had stockpiled more than 700 kilograms of hydrogen peroxide, the same chemical used by suicide bombers in the 2005 attacks on London's transport system which killed 56 people, she added.

German officials did not confirm radio reports that the men had been targeting Frankfurt international airport, one of Europe's busiest, and the giant US military base in Ramstein.

"There were no concrete targets," Deputy Interior Minister August Hanning told journalists in Berlin.

"But the German police are speculating that Frankfurt airport was one of these targets."

The Ramstein base in the nearby state of Rhineland-Palatinate, 130 km (80 miles) southwest of the airport, is one of the most important US air bases overseas.

American troops wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan usually make stop-over in the base before being flown to the US.

Germany, which has 3,000 forces stationed in Afghanistan, firmly opposed the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Danish Arrests

The German announcement came a day after Denmark detained eight men on suspicion of plotting a bomb attack and having links with Al-Qaeda.

"We believe this was a serious situation," said Jakob Scharf, the director general of the Danish intelligence service PET.

"These are militant Islamists with connections to high-ranking members of al Qaeda."

PET said the eight, aged 19 to 28, were "suspected of preparing a terrorist act with the use of explosives."

Six of the suspects have Danish citizenship, said Scharf, adding that the men had all lived in Denmark for an extended period of time.

Authorities said the arrestees had foreign backgrounds from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Turkey.

Police raided 11 homes in the early hours of Tuesday, September 4, after a several-month investigation during which PET cooperated with foreign intelligence agencies.

"We made our move now because we had gathered enough evidence to make an arrest, and because several of the suspects had created an unstable explosive in a densely populated housing area," Scharf said.

He declined to disclose any information about the possible target of the planned attack.

Scharf, however, said the plot had "no direct link" to Denmark's military involvement in Iraq or Afghanistan.

IOL
Last Mod: 06 Eylül 2007, 10:12
Add Comment