Bulgarian police uncover stash of weapons linked to Hamas suspects

Prosecutors said the arms were being stockpiled ready for attacks against Jewish institutions in Europe

German police leading two Hamas suspects out of a helicopter to appear before the Federal Supreme Court in Karlsruhe, in December. EPA
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Bulgarian police have uncovered a stash of weapons believed to have been stockpiled by Hamas suspects ready for an attack against Jewish targets in Europe.

The four suspects were arrested in Germany and the Netherlands in December.

Police found photos of pistols, ammunition and magazines on a mobile phone belonging to one of the men, which led investigators to the weapons buried under a tree in southern Bulgaria, according to Der Spiegel.

German prosecutors said the four men had been gathering weapons to be “kept in a state of readiness in view of potential terrorist attacks against Jewish institutions in Europe”.

Three of the suspected members of the Palestinian militant group were arrested in Germany, while the fourth was arrested in the Netherlands.

German prosecutors in December said the four suspects – one Egyptian, two Lebanese and one Dutch national – were “long-standing members of Hamas”, the group whose October 7 attack on Israel triggered the war in Gaza.

One suspect, named as Abdelhamid Al A, had been tasked by Hamas leaders with locating a “depot with weapons in Europe, which the organisation had covertly set up there in the past”, the prosecutors said.

“The weapons were due to be taken to Berlin and kept in a state of readiness in view of potential terrorist attacks against Jewish institutions in Europe,” they said.

Members of the group had allegedly “set out from Berlin several times to search for the weapons”.

The depot was thought to be in Poland but it has not yet been found, according to Der Spiegel.

Experts said the arrests in Europe suggest Hamas may be looking to expand its campaign and co-operate with Hezbollah, which has a strong continental network. Without border checks within EU countries, it is easier to move weapons.

In December, experts warned widespread terrorist attacks by Islamic extremists in Europe were a genuine prospect as a result of the mounting death toll in Gaza.

The growth of extremism has come in waves across the West, with the fallout from the Bosnia war in the 1990s, the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, then the explosion of organised ISIS terrorists a decade ago.

Updated: April 04, 2024, 1:50 PM