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German terror plotters trained in Pakistan

September 06, 2007 15:05 IST

After Madrid and London, Germany could have been the ideal unsuspecting venue for al Qaeda to launch an attack on symbols of American presence. However, the outfit's plans were scuttled before the threat could turn real.

German Federal Criminal Police on Tuesday nabbed three Islamic terrorists trained in Pakistan as they were assembling bombs, purportedly meant to carry out al Qaeda's devious plans, inside a rented house in Sauerland, 60 miles east of Dusseldorf.

Investigations also revealed that the three men were members of the Islamic Jihad Union, a Sunni Muslim group based in Central Asia, that is believed to be an offshoot of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, an extremist group with origins in that country.

German Federal Prosecutor Monika Harm told media persons, "The suspects had looked at institutions and establishments used by Americans in Germany, which include discos, pubs and airports. The suspects -- two Germans and a Turkish national -- trained in Pakistan at camps run by the Islamic Jihad Union."

About 700 kg of hydrogen peroxide was recovered from the men, who were distinguished by their 'profound hatred of US citizens.' The trio have been identified as Daniel S, Fritz G and Aden Y. The explosive was last used in preparing the backpack bombs that exploded on the London transit system on July 7, 2005, killing 52 passengers and the four attackers.

According to Joerg Ziercke, the head of Germany's Federal Crime Office, the amount of explosive that the men had in their possession would have enabled them to make bombs more powerful than the ones used in the London and Madrid train bombings.

The trio came under suspicion of authorities when they were found snooping around the Ramstein military base, which is the main staging hub for Iraq and Afghanistan operations. Investigations revealed that they had also been visiting discos and pubs that American tourists used to visit frequently.

In Washington, a senior US State Department official said German investigators had determined the Frankfurt International Airport and the nearby US Ramstein Air Base were the primary targets of the plot, but that those arrested may have also been considering strikes on other sites, particularly facilities associated with the United States.

Police is on the look out for 10 others in connection with the failed terror plot.

This is the biggest counter-terrorism operation undertaken by German authorities. The al Qaeda threat has been looming large over European countries since the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Centre in United States.
Rediff News Bureau