More Details on German Al Qaeda Arrests

The New York Times has just published a piece in which more details on the decision to move in on the three Al Qaeda Jihadis are revealed.

It seems the men were in the process of building a bomb in their apartment…

The officials described a vast operation involving an intensive surveillance effort by more than 100 people and including assistance from American intelligence sources and the Moroccan authorities.

The German officials said they believed that the aborted attack was part of a strategy that Al Qaeda had been following to encourage homegrown terrorist attacks, now that the group had lost much of its ability to direct attacks from abroad.

Mr. Ziercke described the plot as a kind of hybrid terrorism that had elements of central control but left would-be attackers largely to their own devices.

One of the suspects, a citizen of Morocco who had lived for a decade in Germany, was recruited to attend a Qaeda training camp last year near the Afghan-Pakistani border, officials said. The suspect, identified only as Abdeladim El-K., 29, received weapons and explosives training and orders from a high-ranking Qaeda official, whom the authorities did not identify, to carry out an attack in Germany.

After re-entering Germany illegally in May 2010, Mr. Ziercke and other officials said, the suspect recruited two longtime acquaintances: men identified as Jamil S., 31, who has joint German and Moroccan citizenship; and Amid C., 19, who is a citizen of Germany and Iran.

While two of the suspects had Moroccan roots, the authorities said they had not found any evidence of a direct connection between the German plot and the bombing in Rabat. However, the men did appear to have been inspired by the attack, the police said.

The authorities said all three of the suspects worked full time on preparing for an attack, trying to conceal their activities by communicating in code and acquiring chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide and acetone that can be used in bomb production. They downloaded bomb-making recipes from the Internet and tried to extract chemicals for a detonator from a charcoal lighter.

The suspects also investigated security measures at possible targets like public buildings, airports and train stations, the authorities said. They stayed away from mosques and other places where they might attract attention.

The German officials who spoke on Saturday did not confirm news reports that the suspects planned to stage an attack during the Eurovision Song Contest, an international music competition that will draw large crowds to Düsseldorf from May 10 to 14. While taking note of the event, officials said the suspects had not yet settled on a target.

“They wanted to create an explosion in a place with big crowds of people,” said Rainer Griesbaum, head of the antiterrorism unit at the federal prosecutor’s office in Karlsruhe.

Mr. Griesbaum and Mr. Ziercke said there was at least one other suspect tied to the plot who had not been arrested, and that there might be dozens of others in Germany providing financial and logistical support to terrorist groups. The officials said they knew of about 200 Germans who had received training at Qaeda camps.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/01/world/europe/01germany.html?_r=1&ref=world

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