Germany Releases Terrorist Suspects Seized on Plane | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 08.10.2008
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Germany Releases Terrorist Suspects Seized on Plane

Two Somali-born men hauled off an airplane at the Cologne airport last month minutes before takeoff and arrested on terrorism charges have been released for lack of evidence, German prosecutors say.

A map of Germany with a target next to a veiled man with a machine gun

The two suspects were seized aboard a Dutch airlines plane at the Cologne-Bonn airport

The investigation is continuing and authorities believe that attacks were being planned, spokesman for the Bonn prosecutor's office, Fred Apostel, told AFP news agency.

On Sept. 26, police stormed a Dutch airlines plane at the Cologne-Bonn airport just minutes before it left for Amsterdam. Prosecutors said the two men were planning an "imminent attack."

A police spokesman had said the 23-year-old Somali and 24-year-old German born in Mogadishu wanted to carry out a "holy war" and that officers had found letters in their apartment referring to an attack.

Suspicions remain, but evidence lacking

But the investigation since the arrests has floundered. Apostel said the evidence was not strong enough to justify charges against the men, who were both living in western Germany.

"After reviewing documents we could no longer maintain a strong suspicion against them," he said, adding that an attack was mentioned in the documents but not in a sufficiently specific way that they could be further detained.

According to an article in Der Spiegel magazine, the two men belong to a group of suspected young fanatics who live in the Bonn region. Authorities had been monitoring group members for some time before the arrests, according to the article.

Unlike Britain and Spain, Germany has not suffered a serious recent attack on its soil.

Last year, German officials arrested three people in the western Sauerland region whom authorities believed were planning attacks against US installations in Germany.

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