German police arrest Syrian bomb plot suspect
REU PhotoGerman police Oct. 10 arrested a Syrian man suspected of plotting a jihadist bomb attack after a two-day manhunt, in a case that has sparked fresh calls for greater checks on asylum seekers.
Authorities tightened security at airports and train stations after Jaber Albakr, 22, slipped through the police net Oct. 8, when they raided his apartment and found several hundred grams of “an explosive substance more dangerous than TNT.”
Police finally got their man with the help of another Syrian, whom Albakr approached at the train station in the eastern city of Leipzig, seeking shelter, according to Spiegel Online.
The Syrian man allowed Albakr to stay at his apartment but when police arrived, they found the suspect tied up.
“We’ve succeeded, really overjoyed,” tweeted police early Oct. 10. “The terror suspect Albakr was arrested overnight in Leipzig.”
Albakr was believed to have had online contact with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily reported.
According to security sources quoted by the Sueddeutsche, he had built “a virtual bomb-making lab” in the flat in a communist-era housing block and was thought to have planned an attack against either one of Berlin’s two airports or a transport hub in his home state of Saxony.
Police had said that “even a small quantity” of the explosives “could have caused enormous damage.”
Local media reported that the material was TATP, the homemade explosive used by jihadists in the Paris and Brussels attacks.
Acting on a tip-off from the domestic intelligence agency, police commandos had sought to swoop on the Syrian early Oct. 8 at his apartment building in the eastern city of Chemnitz, about 85 kilometers (53 miles) from Leipzig.
But he narrowly evaded police, local media said.
Albakr’s flat mate in Chemnitz was formally taken into custody on Oct. 9, a day after being detained, as a suspected co-conspirator of a “serious act of violence.”
Police commandos on Oct. 9 also raided the Chemnitz home of another suspected contact of Albakr, blasting open the door and taking away a man for questioning.
Spiegel said Albakr had entered Germany on Feb. 18, 2015 and two weeks later filed a request for asylum, which was granted in June that year.
Germany has been on edge since two ISIL-claimed attacks in July - an axe rampage on a train in Würzburg that injured five, and a suicide bombing in Ansbach in which 15 people were hurt.
The bloodshed has fuelled concerns over Germany’s record influx of nearly 900,000 refugees and migrants last year.