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German authorities may have thwarted suicide bomb attacks in Iraq and Pakistan by three German women, according to media reports. The security officials allegedly stumbled on the suspects in Internet chat rooms.
Suicide bombings are a near-daily occurrence in Iraq
Citing an unnamed high-ranking security expert, Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel reported on Wednesday that three German women who have converted to Islam allegedly planned suicide bomb attacks in Iraq and Pakistan.
However intelligence authorities apparently managed to prevent the women, aged between 20 and 40, from traveling to Iraq in recent weeks, the paper said. One of the women comes from Berlin, the other two from southern Germany.
Suspected suicide bomber wanted to take child along
Another newspaper Der Berliner Zeitung reported that the 40-year-old women from Berlin also planned to involve her young child in the attack.
"She apparently planned to draw her two-year-old child, who lives with her, along with her to death," the paper quoted an unnamed police source in Berlin. One of the other women also apparently planned to take her one-year-old child with her to Iraq.
A group of Hamas suicide bombers with fake dynamite strapped around their chests
The papers reported that the three were believed to have close contacts to the Islamist scene in Germany and adopted radical views through contacts in Islamist chat rooms on the Internet and under the influence of their Islamist partners. The Berlin Criminal Police Office is said to have stumbled on the three suspects after they voiced their plans in an Islamist Internet forum under a variety of code names.
The 40-year-old Berliner reportedly announced she planned to blow herself up in Iraq and hoped to gain entry to paradise in this way, the Berliner Zeitung quoted an official from the Berlin Criminal Police Office as saying. The youth office in Berlin has apparently taken away the child of the 40-year-old Berliner and sent her to a psychiatric clinic.
No formal legal proceedings have been opened against the women as yet, but police have searched the apartment of the Berliner.
Contacts to Iraqi terrorist group?
Though police remain tight-lipped about whether the women's intentions to carry out suicide attacks on US troops in Iraq and in Pakistan were serious, media reports say the authorities are probing whether the women had contacts to the Iraqi terrorist group Ansar al Islam.
German police officers guard 31-year-old Iraqi Amin Lokman Mohammed
Ansar al Islam -- also known as Ansar al Sunna, a group that has carried out several attacks in Iraq -- is also active in Germany. In January this year a court in Munich sentenced a Ansar al Islam member, Lokman Mohammed, to seven years in prison for recruiting young Muslims with German passports for "jihad" or holy war in Iraq as well as smuggling foreigners to Germany.
In December 2004, police in Berlin, Stuttgart and Augsburg arrested three suspected members of Ansar al Islam who are believed to have planned an attack on then Iraqi Prime Minister Ijad Allawi during an official visit to Berlin in the same year. In addition, further cases against suspected Ansar al Islam members in Germany are pending.
Not the first case
Reports of the three suspected female German suicide bombers aren't the first of their kind in western Europe.
Last November, a 38-year-old Belgian woman who converted to Islam, Muriel Degauque, blew herself up in Iraq, killing several Iraqi policemen.
Der Tagesspiegel quoted a security expert as saying the Degauque case as well as the suspected German suicide bombers pointed to a growing danger of "home grown terrorism."