They had sharp weapons and wanted to kill an Islam critic: The German police dug up an Islamist cell and searched several apartments. The suspects come from Tajikistan.
Violent Islamists have not been an issue in Germany in recent months. The danger seemed to gradually decrease, but now investigators in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia have smashed a suspected terrorist cell with contacts to the IS (Islamic State). On Wednesday morning, the police arrested four members of the group in Essen, Neuss, Siegen, and the Heinsberg district. The officers searched their homes and six other properties.
The Federal Court of Justice issued arrest warrants against the men from Tajikistan. A fifth member has been in custody for a year for finding a weapon. According to the federal prosecutor’s office, the group was already planning to kill someone “who, from the perspective of the accused, had spoken publicly about Islam.”
In previous Islamist terrorist attacks in Germany, the perpetrators wanted to kill as many people as possible in public places. This applies to the attacks in Berlin, Ansbach, and Wurzburg as well as to most of the failed attacks. It is rather unusual for Islamists in Germany to have specific plans to murder a specific person who was critical of Islam. The project had already progressed because the detainees now had live weapons and ammunition and were spying on the potential victim.
The men’s plan to carry out attacks on American forces stationed in Germany is less surprising. The American military in the Federal Republic is repeatedly targeted by terrorists. In 2011, an Islamist shot two American soldiers at Frankfurt Airport and seriously injured two others. It was the first Islamist attack in Germany that the security authorities could not prevent.
Order to murder in Albania
According to the Federal Prosecutor’s Office, the group now arrested had instructions for the construction of explosive devices and had bought the relevant materials from an online mail-order company. To finance the terrorist plans, one of the suspects allegedly accepted a murder order in Albania for which he was promised $ 40,000. The man traveled to the country with another accused. According to information from the Federal Prosecutor’s Office, no action was taken.
The men’s connections to IS are obvious, according to the authority. They are said to have joined the terrorist militia in January 2019. They received the order to found a cell in Germany. They originally intended to travel to Tajikistan “to take part in fighting against the government there as part of armed jihad,” a statement from the federal prosecutor said. However, they then decided to commit attacks in Germany and were in contact with high-ranking IS leaders in Syria and Afghanistan who had given them instructions. The suspects were brought before the investigative judge of the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe on Wednesday, who ordered custody in all four cases.
According to the federal prosecutor, the men are “urgently suspicious” of having founded a terrorist cell as members of the IS. How the investigators exposed the group’s plans is unclear. It is also not known which person the men wanted to kill because of statements critical of Islam. What is clear, however, is that they not only had plans to assassinate but also have to answer for the financing of terrorists. According to the findings of the federal prosecutor’s office, the Islamists in Germany collected money that they sent to IS via middlemen in Turkey.