Man­hunt for bomb plot suspect; 1 man in cus­tody

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - By David Ris­ing

BER­LIN >> Ger­man po­lice searched na­tion­wide Sun­day 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 wouldn’t give other de­tails.

“We be­lieve he is a pos­si­ble co-con­spir­a­tor,” Bern­hardt said.

Another man who knew Al­bakr was taken into cus­tody for ques­tion­ing Sun­day af­ter­noon in a raid on his Chem­nitz apart­ment.

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 wasn’t the case, he said.

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 AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Two po­lice­women walk un­der a po­lice cordon Sun­day that secures an apart­ment build­ing in Chem­nitz, Ger­many.

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