German police arrested two suspected members of the al Qaeda network on Sunday. The men are alleged to have planned a suicide attack in Iraq and one reportedly tried to buy uranium in Luxembourg.
The two are said to have ties to al Qaeda operative Ramzi Binalshibh
Police in the western German city of Mainz on Sunday arrested two men suspected of planning a suicide attack in Iraq for the al Qaeda network. The two are charged with belonging to a foreign terrorist organization. The arrests came after four raids on homes in Mainz and Bonn.
The federal prosecutor's office identified the men as Ibrahim Mohammed K., a 29-year-old Iraqi who is also believed to be a high-ranking al Qaeda figure, and Yasser Abu S, a 31-year-old Palestinian born in Libya with an Egyptian passport. Federal Prosecutor Kay Nehm told a news conference that the Iraqi had recruited the second man last September as a future suicide bomber in Iraq.
German federal prosecutor Kay Nehm with the head of the Mainz police Franz Kirchberger at a press conference following the arrests.
Nehm did not have any details about how the attack would have been carried out. He did say that police had been keeping a close eye on K. since October 2004.
Time in Germany and Afghanistan
The prosecutor's office said that K. had spent time in Germany in the late 1990s. In 1997, he originally tried to gain asylum but was rejected. Then in 1999 he was granted a residence permit.
Osama bin Laden
Before 2001, K. had visited al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan many times before the September 11, 2001 attacks in the USA and stayed there for more than a year. He also had contact several times with Osama bin Laden and other leading figures of the network, including Ramzi Binalshibh, who is suspected of having had ties to the Hamburg al Qaeda cell. Binalshibh is currently in US custody.
With his German documents, K. was able to return to Germany in 2002 from where he was used to assemble financial and logistical support for al Qaeda. Yasser Abu S., who was married to a German and had studied medicine in Bonn, reportedly accepted a plan for him to pull off a suicide bombing mission in Iraq.
In order to finance al Qaeda, Nehm said that S. had taken out a life insurance policy worth over € 800,000 ($1.1 million) and was then planning to pretend having been killed in a car accident in Egypt. The money would go to the terrorist network and S. would then go to Iraq to prepare for his mission.
According to Nehm, K. tried to purchase 48 grams of highly-enriched uranium from a group in Luxembourg. Nehm said that this was however not successful.
Numerous arrests in Germany recently
German police searched the multicultural center in Neu-Ulm on Jan 12, 2005
On January 12 this year, German police arrested 22 people with reported ties to radical Islamic organizations in a series of raids across Germany. During a visit to Germany in December, Germany police prevented three men from attempting to assassinate Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.
On February 23, US President George W. Bush is scheduled to meet German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in the city of Mainz during a state visit. Nehm said there was apparently no connection between the suspects and Bush's visit.