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Apr 28, 2017 at 16:56

German Soldier Arrested After He Posed As A Syrian Refugee To Plan Terror Attack

by AFP


A German soldier who led a "double life" pretending to be a Syrian refugee has been arrested on suspicion he planned a gun attack with racist motives, prosecutors said Thursday.

The 28-year-old suspect, who was not identified, was thought to have a "xenophobic background", they said.

The Die Welt daily reported he may have plotted to pin the blame for an attack on foreigners.

Police arrested the soldier - a lieutenant usually stationed on a Franco-German military base near Strasbourg - in the southern German city of Hammelburg on Wednesday. | Source: Reuters
 

 

The case involved a joint police operation across Germany, France and Austria with raids on 16 locations, prosecutors in Frankfurt said in a statement.

Police arrested the soldier - a lieutenant usually stationed on a Franco-German military base near Strasbourg - in the southern German city of Hammelburg on Wednesday.

The same day they also arrested a second German man, a 24-year-old student and alleged co-conspirator in possession of flares and other objects that breach weapons and explosives laws.

The case involved a joint police operation across Germany, France and Austria with raids on 16 locations, prosecutors in Frankfurt said in a statement. | Source: Reuters
 

 

The lieutenant had been temporarily detained by Austrian police in February at Vienna airport when he tried to retrieve a loaded, unregistered handgun he had hidden in a toilet there a few days earlier.

This sparked an investigation that threw up an even bigger surprise: the suspect had in December 2015 created a false identity as a Syrian refugee.

He led "a double life", said a prosecution spokeswoman about what she called an unprecedented and "extraordinary" case.

'Blame refugees'

He had registered himself at a refugee shelter in the central German state of Hesse and later even launched a request for political asylum in Bavaria state, said the prosecution statement.

This sparked an investigation that threw up an even bigger surprise: the suspect had in December 2015 created a false identity as a Syrian refugee. | Source: Reuters
 

 

The request was accepted, even though the man speaks no Arabic.

He was alloted a place in the refugee home and has since January 2016 received monthly financial payments under this false identity, the prosecutors said.

"These findings, and indications of a xenophobic background of the Bundeswehr soldier, suggest that the accused was planning a serious crime endangering state security with the weapon that was earlier deposited at Vienna airport," said the statement.

He was alloted a place in the refugee home and has since January 2016 received monthly financial payments under this false identity, the prosecutors said. | Source: Reuters
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Security services in the sweeping cross-border raids targeting contacts of the two men confiscated mobile phones, laptops and written materials, said the statement.

There was evidence the 24-year-old student shared anti-foreigner views, including text messages between the two suspects, who both hailed from Offenbach near Frankfurt.

Green party lawmaker Irene Mihalic called for an investigation into whether "in far-right circles, attacks are being planned specifically in order to blame them on refugees".

Security services in the sweeping cross-border raids targeting contacts of the two men confiscated mobile phones, laptops and written materials, said the statement. | Source: Reuters
 

 

The case recalled the bizarre suspected plot behind an April 11 explosives attack against the bus of the Borussia Dortmund football team, which wounded one player and a police officer.

A German-Russian suspect allegedly staged the attack, with a fake Islamist claim of responsibility, in a bid to profit from a resulting plunge in the club's stock value.

Germany has taken in more than one million asylum seekers since 2015, many from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, sparking an anti-foreigner backlash and a spate of racist hate crimes.

(Feature image source: Reuters)

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