Germany arrests suspect in plot to attack U.S. targets

The U.S. military's Ramstein Air Base is believed to be one of the targets for plotters.
German federal prosecutors said Friday they have arrested a man suspected of helping a terrorist cell that allegedly plotted attacks against U.S. troops in Germany.

The prosecutor’s office identified the man only as “Kadir T.,” and said he is a German of Turkish origin. He is suspected of acquiring a video camera and night-vision equipment for the Islamic Jihad Union group, prosecutors said. The items were allegedly shipped to Waziristan in Pakistan, prosecutors added. Four men trained by the Islamic Jihad Union are currently on trial in Germany for allegedly plotting attacks against U.S installations in Germany. They are known as the “Sauerland Group.” Three of the men — two Germans and a Turk — were arrested in September 2007. They were mixing a massive amount of explosive materials that could have resulted in a strong blast, bigger than the attacks in Madrid in 2004 and London in 2005, authorities said. Fritz Gelowicz, Martin Schneider, and Adem Yilmaz are charged with membership in foreign and domestic terrorist groups, preparation of explosives, plotting to murder and plotting to commit a crime using explosives, the court said. Schneider is also accused of attempted murder, the court said.

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The fourth person, identified in German media reports as Attila Selek, is a German citizen of Turkish descent. U.S. interests in Germany were among the targets of the group’s plot, Michael Chertoff, who was the U.S. homeland security secretary, said at the time. Gelowicz and Schneider are Germans who converted to Islam. Gelowicz was a leading member of a radical Islamist center in Ulm in southern Germany, and was well known to German authorities, officials said. The Islamic Jihad Union is a little-known Uzbek militant group that claimed responsibility for the plot days after the arrests. It said the intention was to target U.S. and Uzbek targets, a German Interior Ministry spokesman said. German authorities have said the three men trained at the group’s camps in northern Pakistan. The group said it wanted to target the Ramstein Air Base and other United States and Uzbek military and diplomatic installations in Germany, the spokesman said. The group also wanted to force Germany to stop using an air base in Uzbekistan as a stopover point for moving equipment and personnel in and out of northern Afghanistan, the spokesman said. The Islamic Jihad Union was unknown until April 2004, when it conducted a series of suicide bombings in Uzbekistan, killing 47 people, according to the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism. The nonprofit organization is funded by the Department of Homeland Security.