Three men suspected of targeting Americans in a terror plot in central Germany were formally charged Tuesday, one year after a swarm of German police rounded them up in a series of raids throughout the country.
The federal prosecutor’s office confirmed that Fritz Martin Gelowicz, Daniel Martin Schneider and Adem Yilmaz were charged with membership in the Islamic Jihad Union — an alleged terrorist organization with ties to al-Qaida. The men have been in police custody since their Sept. 4 arrest.
Frank Wallenta, spokesman for the German federal prosecutor, said the case is now in the hands of a Düsseldorf court, where the suspects will submit statements and attend a pre-trial hearing. A date for the hearing is yet to be scheduled.
At the time of their arrests, German authorities said that the men were poised to carry out their plot against both U.S. and German targets. The suspects had been under close surveillance for six months as German law enforcement officials monitored their movements.
German authorities said at the time of the arrests that investigators were prompted to take action because the suspects had recently obtained some 1,500 pounds of hydrogen peroxide, which could be mixed into explosives. Scores of German police participated in the investigation, which involved searches of 41 properties across the country.
Bars, discos and restaurants frequented by Americans were among the places that could have been targets, German law enforcement officials said.
Ramstein Air Base and the Frankfurt airport were reportedly also among the potential targets in the plot. U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, however, said at the time that it had received no information that Ramstein or any other installation was specifically targeted.
Yet in the months leading up to the arrests, the U.S. military and German authorities issued numerous warnings about an increased terror threat posed to U.S. installations throughout Germany.
The three suspects — two Germans and a Turk — first came to the attention of authorities because the men had been observing a U.S. military facility in late 2006, officials said. All three had allegedly undergone training at camps in Pakistan run by the Islamic Jihad Union, and had formed a German cell of the group.
Soon after coming to the attention of U.S officials, a warning was issued to the military community.
In March 2007, the 21st Theater Support Command sent out an e-mail warning that an extremist group was targeting U.S. facilities. The e-mail also had attached a "BOLO" — "be on the lookout" — for the three men charged Tuesday.
Following the issuing of the BOLO, the U.S. Embassy put out a warning on April 20 of an increased terrorist threat and increased its own security.
While the military was kept apprised of the case from the beginning, it did not participate in the investigation or subsequent arrests, U.S. officials said.
Stars and Stripes translator Marcus Klöckner contributed to this story.