Terror attack plot foiled

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Three suspected Islamist militants detained in Germany

BERLIN: A turkish citizen linked to a terrorist group based in Central Asia, had 700 kgs of hydrogen peroxide — enough to make a bomb with the explosive power of 550 kgs of TNT, prosecutors said at a news conference.

“We were able to succeed in recognizing and preventing the most serious and massive bombings,” Federal Prosecutor Monika Harms told reporters, calling it “a good day for security in Germany.”

She declined to name specific targets but said the suspects had an eye on institutions and establishments frequented by Americans in Germany, including discos, pubs and airports.

Citing unnamed security sources in Berlin, the broadcaster Suedwestfunk said Frankfurt International Airport and U.S. Ramstein Air Base were among targets.

Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung confirmed the arrests but gave no details. Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said: “We don’t know exactly what the targets of the attacks were.”

Germany’s elite GSG-9 anti-terrorist unit arrested two suspects in central Germany on Tuesday. A third suspect fled through a bathroom window but was apprehended.

The suspects made a first appearance on Wednesday at the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe.

Officials said the 35 per cent solution of hydrogen peroxide, stored in a hideout, easily could have been mixed with other additives to produce a powerful bomb.

“This would have enabled them to make bombs with more explosive power than the ones used in the London and Madrid bombings,” the head of the Crime Office said. The two German converts to Islam, aged 22 and 28, and the 29-year-old Turk first came to the attention of authorities because they had been caught observing a U.S. military facility in Hanau, near Frankfurt, at the end of 2006, officials said.

Prosecutors said three had undergone training at camps in Pakistan run by the Islamic Jihad Union, and had formed a German cell of the Al-Qaeda-influenced group.

The Islamic Jihad Union is described as a Sunni Muslim group based in Central Asia that was an offshoot of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, an extremist group with origins in that country.

“This group distinguishes itself through its profound hatred of U.S. citizens,” Mr. Ziercke said.

The three had no steady work and were collecting unemployment benefits while their main occupation was the plot, officials said.

It was another alarming report following a failed train bombing last year and warnings that Germany’s troop deployment in Afghanistan could make it vulnerable. German and U.S. officials have warned of the possibility of a terrorist attack, and security measures have been increased.

In July 2006, two gas bombs were placed on German commuter trains but did not explode.

Officials said that attack was motivated by anger over cartoons portraying the Prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper. — AP



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