August 19, 2006

Germany detains man for July bomb plot

By Jan Schwartz

KIEL, Germany (Reuters) - German police detained a
21-year-old Lebanese man on Saturday who they believe planted a
makeshift bomb on a German train last month as part of a failed
terrorism plot.

Federal prosecutor Monika Harms told reporters in Karlsruhe
that the suspect had been seized in the early morning hours at
a train station in the northern city of Kiel, where the man had
been living and studying.

She said the suspect's fingerprints and DNA matched that
taken from one of two abandoned suitcases that were discovered
on July 31 on separate trains in the cities of Dortmund and

The suitcases contained crude bombs that police say were
set to go off 10 minutes before the trains arrived in the two
cities. The explosives failed to detonate, but if they had,
police say they would have killed a "high number" of people.

Harms said the logistical sophistication of the plot
suggested the suspect was part of a broader terrorist

The police are still looking for another man. Both suspects
were caught on video boarding the trains with suitcases in
Cologne. The video footage was put on the Internet on Friday to
help the police with their manhunt.

"The second suspect is still at large," said Joerg Ziercke,
president of the federal crime office (BKA), speaking at a news
conference in Kiel. "The danger is still out there."

Police said on Friday that the bombs -- made with propane
tanks, gasoline bottles and crude detonating devices -- may
have been part of a plot designed to show anger over the Middle
East crisis.

Along with the bomb materials, they found a bag of starch
with Arabic print and a shopping list in Arabic for olives,
bread and Lebanese yoghurt.

Chancellor Angela Merkel called the capture of the suspect
a big success in the fight against terrorism and praised the
quick work of German security forces.

Harms said the suspect would be brought before an federal
investigating judge on Sunday.

The news comes a week after Britain said it had foiled a
plot to blow up transatlantic aircraft and amid discussions in
Germany about sending troops to Lebanon as part of a United
Nations peace-keeping force.

It has been a wake-up call in a country where fears of
terrorist attacks still rank well behind concerns over economic
issues such as unemployment.

Germany has not suffered a major militant attack in recent
years, although a cell including members of the group behind
the September 11 attacks on the United States was based in the
northern port city of Hamburg.

Dieter Wiefelspuetz, interior expert for the centre-left
Social Democrat Party (SPD) in parliament, told German radio on
Saturday that the bomb plot had shown that the threat of an
attack in Germany had reached a new level.

"I had hoped that these were not real bombs, that it was
simply a crazy person who wanted to scare the public," he said.

(Additional reporting by Hendrik Sackmann in KARLSRUHE)