Germany, Netherlands arrest 9 over an alleged plan for attacks in line with Islamic State group

Authorities say nine people from Central Asia have been arrested in Germany and the Netherlands over alleged plans to carry out attacks in Germany and for collecting money for the Islamic State group

ByGEIR MOULSON Associated Press
July 6, 2023, 3:33 AM

BERLIN -- Nine people from Central Asia were arrested in Germany and the Netherlands on Thursday over alleged plans to carry out attacks in Germany and for collecting money for the Islamic State group, authorities said.

Seven men arrested in Germany were accused of founding a “domestic terrorist group” and of supporting IS, federal prosecutors said. All had known each other for a long time, had radical Islamic views and came to Germany more or less simultaneously from Ukraine shortly after Russia launched its full-scale invasion last year, the prosecutors alleged.

A year ago, the suspects allegedly formed a group that aimed to carry out attacks in Germany. According to prosecutors, the group was in contact with members of an IS offshoot active in and around Afghanistan, Islamic State Khorasan Province.

Its members had checked out possible targets in Germany and attempted to procure weapons, but “there was no concrete plan for an attack at the time of today's arrest," prosecutors said in a statement. All but one of the men arrested in Germany had been collecting money for IS since April 2022 and transferring it to the group, they added.

In the Netherlands, the public prosecution service said a 29-year-old Tajik man and his 31-year-old Kyrgyz wife, who had lived in the country since last year, were arrested on suspicion of “committing preparatory acts for terrorism offenses.” The man is also suspected of membership in IS.

Police suspect that the man “was given the order to plot a terrorist attack,” the prosecution service said in a statement. It said the plans were serious enough for prosecutors to intervene, although they were “not yet concrete.”

German prosecutors said the man arrested in the Netherlands belonged to the group formed by the other suspects.

The arrests in Germany were made in various locations in North Rhine-Westphalia state, which borders the Netherlands. German prosecutors identified the men arrested there as Ata A., a citizen of Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan national Abrorjon K., and five citizens of Tajikistan — Mukhammadshujo A., Nuriddin K., Shamshud N., Said S. and Raboni Z.

Their full names weren't released in line with German privacy rules.

North Rhine-Westphalia's interior minister, Herbert Reul, said 15 properties in his state were searched.

The seven suspects arrested there are between the ages of 20 and 46 and were already on authorities' radar, for instance, as potentially dangerous people, he said. No weapons have been found so far, he added.

Pointing to the suspects having arrived in Germany along with refugees from Ukraine, Reul said: “We see, unfortunately, that there are black sheep among the enormously large number of people fleeing war and seeking shelter here, but ... our security authorities are vigilant and have this on their radar.”