10 more sought in aborted terror plot
Mideast edition, Friday, September 7, 2007
As investigators forge ahead in the hunt for an additional 10 suspects linked to the thwarted terror plot against Americans in Germany, the U.S. military here says it has no plans to intensify security measures at its installations around Europe.
The reason: “Business as usual means a pretty high state of vigilance,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Jeff Gradeck, a spokesman for the U.S. European Command.
“We’re going to continue this course we’re on. Continue to stay vigilant,” Gradeck added.
German authorities searched Thursday for more suspects believed to have helped a trio of alleged Islamic radicals plan massive bombings in Germany.
Seven people were being sought both in and outside Germany, and the names of five of them were known to police, said Andreas Christeleit, a spokesman for federal prosecutors, without providing details.
Following months of surveillance, two German converts to Islam and a Turk were arrested Tuesday when anti-terror police pounced on what officials said was a bomb-making hide-out.
Prosecutors said the three suspects had military-style detonators and enough material at the rented cottage in Oberschlendorn, central Germany, to make bombs more powerful than those that killed 191 commuters in Madrid in 2004 and 52 in London in 2005.
Prosecutors have declined to name specific targets, mentioning restaurants, pubs, discotheques, airports and other places frequented by Americans.
August Hanning, a deputy interior minister, said earlier that “about” 10 people were being sought. “This is the network that we are aware of at the moment,” Hanning said on ARD television, cautioning that the number could rise as the investigation goes on.
Hanning said investigators believed the network no longer posed a direct security threat.
While the arrests provoked relief that the attack was turned back, there was concern about two of the suspects being “homegrown” terror suspects, with the typically German first name of one of the suspects drawing attention. “His name is Fritz — a German,” said the announcer on ZDF television’s late-evening newscast Wednesday.
German and U.S. officials have been increasingly on edge after Islamist attacks on German troops in Afghanistan, and fearing an attack at home, have already increased security measures.
The suspect identified by police as Fritz Gelowicz, aged 28, was described as a German convert to Islam, as was co-defendant Daniel Martin S. The Turkish suspect is Ayem Y., 28.
Gelowicz’s last known address was in the town of Ulm, in the state of Baden-Württemberg, where he studied business and engineering at a local vocational college.
The German raids were launched after an intense, six-month investigation by 300 officers, who followed the suspects so closely that, at one point, police stealthily substituted a harmless substitute for the raw bomb material the suspects had collected, prosecutors said.
Over the next six months, authorities observed the suspects gathering a dozen containers of 35-percent hydrogen peroxide solution, which officials said can easily be combined with other material to make explosives. Police moved in when the suspects began moving some of the containers and acquiring other equipment used to make bombs.
Prosecutors said the three had undergone training at camps in Pakistan run by the Islamic Jihad Union, and had formed a German cell of the al-Qaida-influenced group.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.