3 Syr­i­ans alert po­lice in Ger­many to suspect

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD - By Kirsten Grieshaber

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

Niger: Ger­many can build base

NI­AMEY, NIGER — Ger­many can build a mil­i­tary lo­gis­tics base in Niger as it seeks to strengthen the fight against ex­trem­ism in this West African coun­try and in neigh­bor­ing Mali, Niger’s pres­i­dent said Mon­day.

Ger­many has about 650 troops sup­port­ing the United Na­tions peace­keep­ing mis­sion in Mali.

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.

HEN­DRIK SCH­MIDT/DPA

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