German commandos arrest two terror suspects on aircraft: police
Saturday, 27 September 2008

AFP, BERLIN - German police commandos arrested two Somali-born terror suspects on a KLM aircraft Friday who media reports said had links to a group behind a foiled 2007 plot to attack US interests.

Security forces boarded the Amsterdam-bound plane with 48 passengers on board at Cologne-Bonn at 6:55 am (0455 GMT) and took a 23-year-old Somali and a 24-year-old German citizen of Somali origin into custody, police spokesman Frank Scheulen said.
 
He indicated that the two men had left notes in their apartments saying they were prepared to die in "holy war" and that they had been under police surveillance for several months. The two men were not named.
 
"The (two) passengers were asked to get off the plane, there was a baggage inspection and then when everything had been removed a full check of the cabin took place," KLM spokeswoman Ellen van Ginkel told AFP in Amsterdam.
 
The twin-propeller Fokker 50 then took off and continued its journey as normal, she said.
 
Scheulen said the arrests had been "nothing spectacular."
 
The Tagesspiegel daily cited unnamed security sources as saying the two men -- named by the paper as Abdirazak B. and Omar D. -- wanted to fly from Amsterdam to Uganda and then to Pakistan to join the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU).
 
The IJU, a group with roots in Uzbekistan with ties to Al-Qaeda, is believed to be behind the "Sauerlandgruppe," a group of three men arrested in September 2007 on suspicion of plotting attacks against US citizens and interests in Germany.
 
German converts to Islam Daniel Schneider and Fritz Gelowicz and Turkish citizen Adem Yilmaz had attended training camps in Pakistan in 2006 and were believed to belong to the IJU.
 
The men were found with over 700 kilos (1,500 pounds) of hydrogen peroxide, the substance used in the 2005 attacks on London's transport system that killed 56 people. The chemicals had an explosive power equivalent to 550 kilos of TNT.
 
If confirmed that the two men arrested on Friday also had links to the IJU, it would be the latest in a string of police actions this month linked to the banned group.
 
On September 18 police arrested two men, one a 27-year-old German citizen of Afghan origin and the other a 27-year-old Turkish national, who prosecutors believe were recruited by Yilmaz.
 
Germany, which opposed the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq and has around 3,300 troops in Afghanistan under NATO command, has beefed up security and surveillance in response to the threat of attacks by Islamic extremists.
 
The closest Germany came to an attack was in July 2006, when suitcases containing homemade bombs were placed on two regional trains passing through Cologne's busy main train station. They failed to detonate.
 
The September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States were planned by an Al-Qaeda cell in the northern German city of Hamburg led by Mohammed Atta, one of the hijackers of the planes involved in the attacks.

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