German police arrest three Iraqis accused of terror plot

One of the accused had taken driving lessons in preperation for a vehicle-led attack

FILE PHOTO: German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere speaks with members of the GSG 9 unit of Bundespolizei, Germany's federal police, during the opening of a new headquarters for special forces and anti-terror units in Berlin, Germany August 8, 2017. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/File Photo
Powered by automated translation

A German SWAT team has swooped in on three Iraqis accused of planning a bomb attack “motivated by Islamic extremism.”

The group were detained by police in Dithmarschen, not far from the Danish border, in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Raids were also carried out in two other states on properties linked to the cell but no arrests were made.

The suspects were named as Shafin F and Hersh F, both 23, who “were firmly committed to carrying out an attack,” the federal prosecutors office said. According to officials, the two men “decided in late 2018 to carry out an Islamist attack in Germany”.

They were allegedly helped by Rauf S, 36, who was tasked with obtaining a pistol from a fellow Iraqi, but balked at the $1,370 price.

Shafin F had begun taking driving lessons in early 2019 supposedly in preparation for a vehicle-led attack. He downloaded bomb building instructions and tried to obtain a fuse from the UK but was stopped by local authorities. Shafin F and Hersh F were also accused of extracting 250 grams worth of gunpowder from fireworks meant for New Year's Eve celebrations.

"According to the investigation so far, the accused had not yet chosen a target for their attack,” German prosecutors said in a statement.

"Whether the accused belonged to a terrorist group must now be clarified."

Officially, it was unclear when the group first entered into Germany – Speigel Online, however, citing unnamed sources, said they arrived in late 2015.

From 2015-2016 over one million asylum-seekers, mainly fleeing from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, entered Germany.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has been heavily criticised by both German and European anti-migration and nationalist parties over her supposed open door policy.

On December 19, 2016 Tunisian Anis Amri, a failed asylum seeker, drove a truck into a Berlin Christmas market, killing 12 and injuring 56. Despite a history of drug and alcohol abuse, footage would later emerge of Amri pledging allegiance to ISIS.

Early on December 23, 2016 Amri was shot dead by Italian police near Milan following a Europe-wide manhunt.