Man­hunt for Ger­man bomb plot sus­pect; 1 man in cus­tody

22-year-old Syr­ian iden­ti­fied

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Ger­man po­lice searched na­tion­wide yes­ter­day for a 22-year-old Syr­ian man be­lieved to have been pre­par­ing a bomb­ing at­tack, who slipped through their fin­gers as they were clos­ing in on him, and were ques­tion­ing a sec­ond Syr­ian man on sus­pi­cion he was in­volved in the plot. The man in cus­tody was one of three ap­pre­hended in the east­ern city of Chem­nitz on Satur­day. He was the renter of the apart­ment that po­lice raided in their search for the main sus­pect, Jaber Albakr from the Da­m­as­cus area of Syria, Sax­ony po­lice spokesman Tom Bern­hardt told The As­so­ci­ated Press. The other two men have been re­leased. He said the man in cus­tody was Albakr’s “coun­try­man” but would not give other de­tails. “We be­lieve he is a pos­si­ble co­con­spir­a­tor,” Bern­hardt said. On Satur­day morn­ing, as po­lice pre­pared to raid the apart­ment build­ing, Albakr was ob­served leav­ing the premises. Po­lice fired a warn­ing shot but were un­able to stop him, Bern­hardt said, con­firm­ing Ger­man me­dia re­ports. They thought he had turned back into the build­ing but was not the case, he said.

En­tered with mi­grants

Bern­hardt also con­firmed re­ports that Albakr had come to Ger­many in the flood of 890,000 mi­grants who en­tered the coun­try in 2015 and had been granted asy­lum. No­body was in the apart­ment when po­lice SWAT teams blew down the door Satur­day, but in­ves­ti­ga­tors found “sev­eral hun­dred grams” of a volatile ex­plo­sive hid­den in the flat, enough to cause sig­nif­i­cant dam­age, Bern­hardt said. “With this highly volatile ex­plo­sive, even a few hun­dred grams is no tri­fle,” he said. “For an ex­plo­sive of this type, it was a con­sid­er­able amount.”

He said ex­perts were still try­ing to de­ter­mine whether it was the same ex­plo­sive used in the deadly Nov. 13 at­tacks in Paris and the March 22 at­tacks in Brus­sels known as TATP, or tri­ace­tone triper­ox­ide. “It’s com­pa­ra­ble to that,” he said. TATP has been used in many at­tacks over the years, and is fa­vored by vi­o­lent ex­trem­ists be­cause it’s fairly easy to make and det­o­nate.

The ex­plo­sives were destroyed Satur­day in a con­trolled det­o­na­tion by bomb squad ex­perts in a pit dug out­side the five-story apart­ment build­ing be­cause they were con­sid­ered too dan­ger­ous to trans­port. The raid came af­ter Sax­ony po­lice were given a tip from Ger­many’s do­mes­tic in­tel­li­gence ser­vice that Albakr may be plan­ning an at­tack. He had been on the agency’s radar, but Bern­hardt said it was not clear how long.

Ger­man me­dia have re­ported that Albakr is be­lieved to be con­nected to Is­lamic ex­trem­ist groups, but Sax­ony po­lice have not com­mented on his pos­si­ble mo­ti­va­tion or the bomb plot’s tar­get.

Ger­many has been on edge since two at­tacks this sum­mer claimed by the Is­lamic State in which mul­ti­ple peo­ple were in­jured and both as­sailants died. Two other at­tacks un­re­lated to Is­lamic ex­trem­ism, in­clud­ing a deadly mall shoot­ing in Mu­nich, have also con­trib­uted to fears.

Fed­eral po­lice have in­creased se­cu­rity around the coun­try, par­tic­u­larly around “crit­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture” like train sta­tions and air­ports, as au­thor­i­ties search for Albakr.—AP

CHEM­NITZ, GER­MANY: Po­lice of­fi­cers leave an apart­ment af­ter det­o­na­tions in the east­ern city on Satur­day. —AP

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