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IS bomb suspect planned to target Berlin airport: German intelligence official

A view of the residential bulding in Leipzig where German police captured the bomb attack suspect on October 10. Photograph: (Reuters)

AFP Berlin, Germany Oct 10, 2016, 11.07 AM (IST)

A Syrian refugee arrested in Germany on Monday after a two-day hunt was plotting to bomb a Berlin airport in the name of IS, the head of domestic intelligence said, AFP reported.

"We have received information from the secret services that he initially wanted to target trains in Germany before finally deciding on one of Berlin's airports," Hans-Georg Maassen told German public TV channel ARD.

The 22-year-old suspect, Jaber Albakr, was nabbed by the police with the help of three Syrians in whose flat he sought refuge, one of whom alerted the police.

"A witness came to the police station and said he had recognised Albakr... and had a photo of Albakr on his mobile phone. He also said that his flatmates have overpowered Albakr and tied him up, and that we should come to his apartment," AFP quoted Joerg Michaelis, chief investigator in Saxony as saying.

He also revealed that the suspect was apparently preparing a "bomb, possibly in the form of a suicide vest", and that the explosives were "almost ready, or even ready for usage".

Local media reported that the explosive was Triacetone Triperoxide (TATP), which was the same as the one used in the terror attacks in Paris and Brussels.

"The behaviour of the suspect speaks for an IS context," President of the Saxony state criminal investigation office, Joerg Michaelis, told the press in Dresden.

"According to what we know, the preparations in Chemnitz are similar to the preparations for the attacks in Paris and Brussels," federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said in a statement.

The target that Albakr aimed to attack was not yet clear, Markus Ulbig, interior minister in the state of Saxony, told the press in Dresden

The suspect went on the run on Saturday after the police raided his Chemnitz apartment on a tip-off from the domestic intelligence agency and found "a virtual bomb-making lab".

Albakr's Syrian flatmate, 33-year-old Khalil A, has also been formally remanded in custody as a suspected co-conspirator. Two other associates, who had been detained earlier, have been released.

Albakr reportedly entered Germany in February 2015 and his request for asylum was granted a few months later in June.

The arrest is unwelcome news for Chancellor Angela Merkel who has been criticised for her open-door policy towards refugees and migrants.

Stephan Mayer, a senior lawmaker with her party's Bavarian allies, the Christian Social Union (CSU), said Germany's security agencies needed to be consulted more intensively in the authorities' handling of refugees. "Germany is in the crosshairs of Islamist terror, just like France, Belgium or Britain. We must be very careful," Mayer told television station n-tv. 

Germany has been on edge since two IS-claimed attacks in July, an axe rampage on a train in Wuerzburg that injured five, and a suicide bombing in Ansbach in which 15 people were hurt.


(WION with inputs from agencies)


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