The office of the Attorney General of Germany in Karlsruhe announced on Monday that it had taken over the case from public prosecutors in the western city of Dortmund, and assigned the Federal Criminal Police Office to continue the investigation.
The federal Attorney General of Germany takes over investigations when it finds significant evidence of a possible threat to the country's security, particularly relating to terrorism.
In a statement, the Attorney General said the four were suspected of having “formed a conspiratorial group with a militant Islamist point of view that set out with the intention to use explosives and firearms to launch attacks on members of the party Pro-NRW"
The four suspects were arrested last Wednesday during police commando raids in the cities of Bonn, Leverkusen and Essen, all of which are located in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
In one flat, police also seized 600 grams (1.32 pounds) of explosives and a firearm.
The authorities said they launched the investigation on the basis of information of possible “imminent” terrorist activities. The said they believed that a specific attack had been planned against Markus Beisicht, the leader of the far-right Pro-NRW party, which is active in regional politics in North Rhine Westfphalia. Two of the four were allegedly seen in the vicinity of Beisicht's Leverkusen apartment just hours before the raids were conducted.
Police said they also found a list with the names of nine other Pro-NRW members, but they did not say whether they believed it was a “hit list.”
Shortly after the four arrests last Wednesday, police raided 20 additional flats and other premises, in which they seized laptops, mobile phones, propaganda material and cash.
Later that same day, Germany banned three Salafist groups accused of seeking the creation of an Islamic state under Sharia, or Islamic law, and propagating violence.
Attempted train station bombing
Investigators have also looking into a possible link to the attempted bombing of Bonn's main train station last December. In the bomb, which never detonated and was left on a platform of the station, investigators found similar materials to those found in a flat during last week's raids. The federal Attorney General is also in charge of the investigation into the attempted bombing.
An estimated 3,000 to 5,000 Salafists are believed to live in Germany.
pfd/jr (dpa, epd)