Three Iraqis arrested over Germany bomb plot

Three Iraqis arrested over Germany bomb plot
German authorities have arrested three men in connection with a plot to carry out an attack involving firearms, home made explosives and vehicles.
3 min read
30 January, 2019
Police raided properties in three states in connection to the arrests [DPA]
German authorities arrested three suspected Iraqi men on Wednesday for allegedly plotting to carry out a bomb attack.

Police searched properties in three states in connection with their investigation.

Federal prosecutors said Iraqis Shahin F. and Hersh F., both 23, and Rauf S., 36, were taken into custody in an early morning raid by a police SWAT team in the area of Dithmarschen, close to the border with Denmark.

The two younger men are suspected of preparing a bomb attack and violating weapons laws. Rauf S allegedly aided the pair. Their last names were not given in line with German privacy laws.

Frauke Koehler, a spokesperson for the Federal Prosecutors Office, said the three men appeared to be in the early stages of planning.

"We believe that Shahin F. and Hersh F. were firmly committed to carrying out an attack," she told reporters.

"But (...) according to our information the concrete target and timing of the attack weren't determined yet."

Prosecutors allege the two men decided in late 2018 to "carry out an attack motivated by Islamic extremism in Germany".

Koehler said there was no evidence so far the men were members of, or directed by, the Islamic State group.

Bomb making and firearms

In December, Shahin F. downloaded "various instructions" on how to build a bomb, and ordered a detonator from a contact in the UK, prosecutors said. Its delivery, however, was stopped by British authorities.

The pair also carried out tests using some 250 grams of gunpowder extracted from fireworks, and asked Rauf S. to procure a firearm, prosecutors said.

He is alleged to have contacted Walid Khaled Y.Y., also an Iraqi, who offered them a Russian semi-automatic Makarov 9mm pistol, prosecutors said. But the seller wanted at least 1,200 euros ($1,370) for the weapon, which was considered too expensive so it wasn't purchased.

Y.Y.'s home in the Schwerin area was searched as part of Wednesday's operation, and he is being investigated for alleged weapons and drug violations, prosecutors in the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania told The Associated Press.

Vehicle attack

In preparation for the possibility of using a vehicle in the attack, Shahin F. started taking driving lessons, federal prosecutors said.

All three will appear before federal judges late on Wednesday, to decide whether they should be kept in custody while the investigation continues.

Koehler said authorities received a tip about the alleged plot in late 2018 from Germany's domestic intelligence service, but did not say how the agency started tracking the suspects.

It was not immediately clear when the suspects came to Germany.

More than 1 million asylum-seekers entered Germany in 2015-16, most from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The involvement of several asylum-seekers in extremist attacks or plots has helped boost support for the anti-migrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

In the only mass-casualty Islamist attack in Germany, Tunisian asylum-seeker Anis Amri hijacked a truck in 2016 and drove it into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people and wounding dozens. The Islamic State group later claimed responsibility.