German news magazine Der Spiegel reported in its edition on Monday, Feb. 11, that officials for Germany's federal criminal police (BKA) believe the four men in their twenties are being trained to conduct terror attacks in Germany.
At the end of last year, 20-year-old Eric B., a German convert to Islam, and 23-year-old Houssain al-M., a stateless man of Lebanese origin, headed to Pakistan via Dubai and Iran, according to the report.
Both men are thought to belong to a group called Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) in the southwestern state of Saarland, which had planned a major terror attack in Germany in the fall of 2007. German officials prevented that attack and arrested three terror suspects in September.
Terror training with family
Two more men have disappeared from Germany and are likely to have joined terror camps, the report stated. A 25-year-old man named Salih S. from the central state of Hesse vanished after leaving behind a letter to his family, saying that he would join the jihad.
A 28-year-old man called Cüney C. from Bavaria cleared out his apartment and headed for Pakistan, where German officials apparently lost track of him. According to e-mails he sent, he is planning to join the jihad with his entire family.
While BKA officials did not want to confirm the report, according to the Associated Press news service, the country's law enforcement agencies are on high alert with regards to a possible terror attack.
Police want more controls
Deputy Interior Minister August Hanning said late last week that the threat level had risen since last summer.
"The decision to attack Europe and also Germany has been made in the Pakistani tribal regions," he said.
According to the Spiegel report, German law enforcement officials are therefore trying to prevent the four Islamists from returning to Germany and putting their training into practice.
German police union officials meanwhile accused lawmakers of neglecting the country's security interests, saying that more control tools were needed.
"Those who don't close these gaps right now will bear the responsibility for possible attacks," Konrad Freiberg, the police union's president, told Hanover's Neue Presse newspaper over the weekend.