German security services were put on alert this week after a terror threat was telephoned to the Lebanese embassy in Berlin claiming to come from a group linked to al Qaeda, the justice ministry said Saturday.
Islamists have Germany in their sights
Investigators looking into the threat to attack the German justice ministry, which came on Wednesday, said that Lebanese police had arrested the caller, named as Mohammed Ndoub, a Syrian alleged to have links to al Qaeda and the Islamic Jihad movement.
Reports detailing the threat were published by two of Germany's leading news magazines, Der Spiegel and Focus.
According to Focus, Ndoub said that a three-man squad, comprising a German of Turkish origin, a Saudi and an Australian, were in Germany with the intention of attacking the justice ministry in Berlin or other targets linked to it.
Terror group threatens to attack German civilian targets
Ndoub had told the Lebanese embassy he would carry out several attacks against civilian targets inside Germany in the coming three months. Focus said Lebanese police assessed the claims as broadly plausible.
Der Spiegel said authorities were hunting a truck said to be laden with a ton of explosives which had come from Russia or Finland, crossing the Baltic Sea by ferry to the port city of Rostock.
Although such warnings in the past had always proved wrong, the tip-off did match recent speeches by al Qaeda deputy leader Ayman al Zawahiri.
Threat linked to "Suitcase Bombers" trial
The threats come in response to the trial of the suitcase bombers
The reports said the planned attack was thought to be revenge for the judgment of two Lebanese for the failed bombing of German trains in 2006.
Jihad Hamad and Yusef Mohammed Dib were sentenced last month to 12 years in prison by a Beirut court. Dib, sentenced in his absence, is also currently on trial in Düsseldorf, western Germany, for the same offence.
German prosecutors say Dib, and Hamad placed suitcases containing homemade explosives on two trains in Cologne.
The devices failed to explode because of faulty detonators, averting an almost certain massacre in what German authorities said was a bid to copy deadly train blasts in Madrid in 2004 and London the following year.