Fearing a terrorist attack, police in north rhine-westphalia and baden-wurttemberg took action against a suspected cell of the terrorist militia islamic state (IS).
Officers searched properties in ten cities in north rhine-westphalia and ulm on friday and saturday. The search was for explosives and weapons, as the lead prosecutor general’s office in dusseldorf announced on saturday. Eleven men between the ages of 22 and 35 were temporarily detained, mostly tajiks, but also a german national and a turk. The suspicion: they are supposed to have something to do with the preparation of a terrorist attack. Their release was ordered after no weapons or explosives were found.
A neighbor watched as six civilian police in balaclavas arrested a suspect in essen, germany. "They blindfolded him," she told me the day after. At first, she thought it was a movie scene, but then more and more officers arrived.
The investigation has apparently been going on for a long time: a group of at least six of the eleven people are being investigated on suspicion of preparing a serious act of violence posing a threat to the state, as daniel vollmert, spokesman for the dusseldorf public prosecutor’s office, said on saturday. The central office for the prosecution of terrorism in north rhine-westphalia (zenter NRW) is based there, and is in charge of the case.
Police accuse the group of obtaining weapons and explosives either as a cell of the terrorist militia islamic state (IS) or as its sympathizers. With this, they had planned an attack in germany. However, the spokesman emphasizes that there are no indications of specific targets or a specific act. But there is a "fundamental general fear".
Several hundred officers also searched properties in dusseldorf, wuppertal, monchengladbach and duisburg, including apartments. Special forces were deployed at several locations. Explosive tracker dogs were also present.
But the officers found neither explosives nor weapons. And so, in the end, the urgent suspicion needed for a warrant of arrest was lacking. As a result, the release of all eleven suspects was ordered as late as saturday.
The trigger for the rough operation was the errant ride of a 19-year-old tajik in essen’s city center on friday. "There was a fear that this might be the prelude to several attack scenarios," the department spokesman continued. However, this has not been confirmed. There is no connection between the two.
The 19-year-old man, who is known to the police, drove his car through a pedestrian zone in the center of essen on friday morning. With "clearly excessive speed", as the police wrote. Special forces later arrested the man. On saturday the investigating judge issued a warrant of arrest. Investigated for attempted death. Nobody was injured. Why the young man was driving a car there remained open on saturday.
"That was the reason that the search operation started yesterday, to make sure that the suspects in our crime complex did not actually implement anything that day," vollmert continued. There had not been the suspicion of a planned amok drive. "But there are enough examples of terrorist attacks using a motor vehicle"."At that moment, it could not be excluded that the tajik in essen was part of the group.