Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Major terrorist plot broken up by Germans

The arrests were made because it appeared that attacks were imminent. The US base at Ramstein was a primary target along with Frankfurt International Airport.

BERLIN - Three militants from an Islamic group linked to al-Qaida were planning "massive" bomb attacks against Americans in Germany when an elite antiterrorist unit raided their small-town hideout after months of police surveillance, officials said Wednesday.

Prosecutors said the suspects — two German converts and a Turkish citizen sharing a "profound hatred of U.S. citizens" — had military-style detonators and enough material to make bombs more powerful than those that killed 191 people in Madrid in 2004 and 52 commuters in London two years ago.

[...] Germany's elite GSG-9 anti-terrorist unit arrested two of the suspects Tuesday at a vacation home in Oberschledorn, a town of some 900 people in central Germany. A third suspect fled through a bathroom window, but was caught about 300 meters (yards) away, authorities said.

[...] During the first part of the year, they acquired 12 containers of 35 percent hydrogen peroxide solution, which officials said can easily be combined with other material to make explosives.

As a token of the intense surveillance by German police, prosecutors said that during the investigation they were able to replace the dangerous peroxide in the containers with a harmless solution without the knowledge of the suspects.

The containers were first kept in a garage in the Black Forest region in southern Germany. Subsequently, one of the three rented a vacation cottage in Oberschledorn under a false name on Aug. 17.

On Sept. 2, the two other suspects joined him there with the intention, officials said, of making bombs using detonators and electrical components they had obtained.

Police decided to move in when the suspects moved one of the containers to the cottage, fearing an attack could be in the offing. The more than 700 kilograms (1,500 pounds) of peroxide could have made a bomb with the explosive power of some 550 kilograms (1,200 pounds) of dynamite.

"This would have enabled them to make bombs with more explosive power than the ones used in the London and Madrid bombings," Joerg Ziercke, head of the Federal Crime Office, Germany's equivalent of the FBI, said at the news conference.

Terrorists love to mark important anniversaries (like 9/11) with more death and destruction, so we were probably less than a week away from a massive terrorist attack. Hopefully, German officials can use information obtained from these would-be terrorists to take down other terrorist organizers in teh al Qaeda food chain.

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