3 Syrians alert police in Germany to suspect
BERLIN — A Syrian man wanted for allegedly preparing a bombing attack was apprehended by three of his countrymen, who overpowered him, tied him up in their apartment and then alerted police, authorities said Monday.
The overnight arrest of Jaber Albakr ended a nearly two-day nationwide search for the 22-year-old that German authorities launched after finding several pounds of explosives and components hidden inside an apartment in the eastern city of Chemnitz on Saturday.
Albakr arrived in Germany amid a flood of 890,000 asylum seekers last year. Saxony’s criminal police chief, Joerg Michaelis, said that the three Syrians who captured him recognized the suspect from wanted posters police posted online as part of the manhunt.
After taking him to their
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Niger is a major transit point for African migrants making their way north toward Europe. apartment late Sunday night, two of the Syrians bound and held Albakr while the third brought a mobile phone photo of Albakr to a local police station, leading to the arrest early Monday, Michaelis said.
Prosecutors and police said Monday that they considered Albakr an extremist with likely links to the Islamic State. Germany’s domestic intelligence agency had been watching him since September and alerted Saxony authorities about his alleged possible plot on Friday, authorities said.
When police raided the apartment in Chemnitz where he was thought to be staying on Saturday, Albakr was able to flee. Inside the apartment they found 3.3 pounds of “extremely dangerous explosives” and components, according to federal prosecutors.
Michaelis said that, at this stage of the investigation, “the behavior and actions of the suspect currently speak for an (Islamic State) context.” He didn’t elaborate.
A security official said that there was no indication Albakr was being directed by the Islamic State but that investigators still were combing through seized evidence. The official wasn’t authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and so spoke on condition of anonymity.
Police said it was not clear when and how the suspect met up with his three countrymen in Leipzig, about 50 miles from Chemnitz, or if they already knew him.
They would not release any further information about the three Syrians who apprehended Albakr. If the signs of his having an extremist background were substantiated, “the people who gave the tip are of course in danger,” the police chief said.
Federal prosecutors said in a statement Monday they had no indications that a target already had been chosen for an attack.
Hans- Georg Maassen, head of the domestic intelligence agency, later told public broadcaster ARD that their investigation suggests the suspect had “an eye on the Berlin airports” as potential targets.
A 33-year-old Syrian at whose Chemnitz apartment police found the hidden explosives was arrested over the weekend and is considered a co-conspirator A police officer works on Sunday at a site raided by German commandos. in the alleged bomb plot, prosecutors said.
He was identified only as Khalil A. in keeping with German privacy laws. Albakr’s full identity and photograph had been released while he was on the run and sought.
The explosives were described as similar to the ones used in the deadly Nov. 13 attacks in Paris and the March 22 attacks in Brussels.
The incident comes amid ongoing concerns about the flood of asylum seekers that entered Germany last year and increasing support for populist parties with antimigrant rhetoric.