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Germany charges Syrian teenager suspected of plotting terror attack

Federal prosecutors have charged a 19-year-old Syrian man suspected of having ties to the so-called "Islamic State" (IS). Authorities believe he was plotting an attack in Berlin.

Authorities said Thursday the 19-year-old man, known only as Shaas Al-M in accordance with German privacy laws, is suspected of joining IS in 2013 and taking part in military exercises in and around the Syrian city of Deir al-Zour.

Prosecutors allege that he was scouting out locations for a terror attack in Berlin on behalf of IS. He has been charged with membership in a foreign terrorist organization and violating laws regulating the transportation of weapons of war.

Additionally, he was in Germany to serve as a "contact man" for other members of IS seeking to carry out attacks, authorities said. He also allegedly recruited at least one person to send back to Syria.

Polizei Sachsen Fahndungsbild Jaber Albakr (Polizei Sachsen)

Jaber Albakr hanged himself in jail

The suspect was supposedly among the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing conflict when he entered Germany in 2015. He was arrested in March after prosecutors in the city of Potsdam leveled criminal conspriacy charges against him. The case was then taken up by federal prosecutors.

Calls for more security

The arrest comes shortly after another Syrian, Jaber Albakr, committed suicide in his jail cell after being arrested on suspicion of planning an attack at a Berlin airport. The 22-year-old had travelled to Syria as well, though his brother claimed he was radicalized in Germany.

The case revealed the extent of Germany's vulerability from a security standpoint in the wake of the refugee crisis, leading to calls for Berlin to tighten security checks on migrants.

While the country has so far been spared a large-scale attack like those in Paris and Brussels, Germany was rocked this summer by two incidents in which IS-linked asylum seekers attempted attacks. In Würzburg, a 17-year-old Afghan refugee attacked passengers on a train with an ax, while in Ansbach, 15 people were injured after a Syrian refugee blew himself up.

Germany took in nearly a million refugees in 2015, around 40 percent of them from Syria.

blc/rs (dpa, AFP)

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