The Islamic Jihad Union, a little-known group affiliated to al Qaeda has said it was behind a recent foiled plot to attack a major US air base and other targets in Germany, Germany's interior ministry said on Tuesday.
German police arrested three suspects last week in connection with the attacks
The group was planning to attack the US military base in Ramstein and was also targeting "US and Uzbek consulates in Germany," a statement from the German ministry said.
It was the first official confirmation that the Ramstein base near Frankfurt, a key staging post for US military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, was a target of the alleged plot uncovered
German authorities have confirmed that the terrorists were planning to target the Ramstein US base
The interior ministry said the "attacks could have been staged at the end of the year."
The ministry said officials believed the claim, made on a Web site,was authentic and that it fitted in with their investigations.
"The acknowledgement emphasizes the continuing threat of Islamist terrorism," the ministry said.
Group planning "massive attacks"
News of the Islamic Jihad Union's involvement comes days after German authorities arrested three men in connection with what officials say was a foiled plan to bomb US sites in Germany.
The police said the attacks could have caused even worse carnage than bomb attacks in Madrid or London in recent years.
Federal prosecutor Monika Harms said the cell was planning "massive" attacks."
German authorities said the men arrested -- two German converts to Islam and a Turk -- had trained in militant camps in Pakistan before forming a domestic cell of the Islamic Jihad Union which has its roots in Uzbekistan.
Canisters of hydrogen peroxide that were seized by security forces from those arrested
Officials said the suspects had collected massive quantities of hydrogen peroxide. That same household chemical was used by suicide bombers in the 2005 London public transport attacks that killed 56 people.
Biggest security operation
Jörg Ziercke, head of Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), said last week that the Islamic Jihad Union had ties to the al Qaeda terrorist network and that the men accused of planning the attacks in Germany were "driven by a hatred of US citizens."
He said over 300 police officers had been monitoring the suspects over six months, and that it was one of the largest police operations of its kind in Germany. Security forces decided to move in on the suspects last week when it became clear the three had begun creating bombs.
News of the arrests of the homegrown terrorists have shaken Germany and reignited debate over tightening security measures and better integrating its minority Muslim population.
The fact that two of the suspects are German converts to Islam has also raised questions over whether converts to Islam are more susceptible to radicalization.