German police raid apartments at centre of suspected ISIS plot
Six people were detained in Cologne over fears of a planned terrorist attack
In a series of dawn raids on Thursday, German police searched apartments linked to a ring of suspected extremists inspired by ISIS, detaining six people.
The German newspaper Bild reported the raids on the addresses in Dueren and Cologne, western Germany. It said knives and baseball bats, 20 mobile phones, a number of external hard drives and three laptops were seized.
Police in Cologne said they launched the raids against the alleged terrorists because of suspicions they were planning an attack and in hope of gaining concrete evidence of a plot.
Cologne police chief Uwe Jacob said he was “confident that we will soon be able to substantiate our threat assessment”.
The security forces took action when the principal suspect, a German-Lebanese Muslim convert known as Wael C, 30, who had made a number of attempts to join ISIS, moved into the Dueren apartment with another extremist, according to the Associated Press.
This second man, identified as Timo R, was also known to have sworn allegiance to ISIS.
Wael C, originally from Berlin, worked as a temporary imam at the now-banned Fussilet 33 Mosque Association.
The organisation, a known focal point for extremists, was closed by Germany’s interior ministry over its links to ISIS.
Anis Amri, responsible for the December 2016 lorry attack on a Christmas market in Berlin that killed 12, had visited the mosque.
Though Wael C had reportedly been known to police for years, he had recently been recorded as saying he was “planning to ascend to the highest level of paradise”.
It was believed that by this he meant he was planning a suicide attack.
From the apartment in Dueren, where Wael C was living with Timo R, police were led to a construction site in Cologne.
The five-floor building, which includes retail spaces on the ground floor, was searched by bomb detection dogs.
There are indications that the canine units may have uncovered explosives at this location.
Two employees were detained at the construction site.
Police are confident there are links between the two men and the wider terrorist circle.
“We also went to work, to a larger construction site in the centre of Cologne,” state security spokesman Michael Esser said.
“We interviewed all employees. In this context, we found that the two people worked only a small area,” he said.
Police emphasised that none of the men under investigation have been arrested.
The law in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia allows police to detain suspects for two weeks if they pose a significant security threat.
Updated: July 18, 2019 10:29 PM