German police arrest suspect linked to detention of refugee

Police have carried out raids in several towns, targeting preachers suspected of recruiting men to fight in Iraq and Syria.
Police have carried out raids in several towns, targeting preachers suspected of recruiting men to fight in Iraq and Syria.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

•BERLIN • German police yesterday arrested a suspect in connection with an investigation into a 24-year-old Syrian refugee detained after the authorities were tipped off that he was planning a possible Islamist-motivated attack, officials said.

But the Interior Minister in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Mr Ralf Jaeger, said yesterday's arrest was related to "acts of violence" in Syria and that there was no evidence of concrete plans to carry out an attack in Germany.

Mr Jaeger also denied German media reports that the Syrian refugee arrested on Friday was planning to carry out an attack at the start of the Bundesliga soccer season on Aug 26. "There were no concrete plans for an attack in Rhineland-Palatinate or North Rhine-Westphalia, especially not against the soccer Bundesliga," Mr Jaeger told reporters.

A spokesman for the prosecutor's office in Duisburg declined to comment on German media reports that the suspect arrested yesterday in Dinslaken, in North Rhine-Westphalia, was also a Syrian refugee.

The Syrian man arrested on Friday in the neighbouring state of Rhineland-Palatinate remains in police custody.

The detentions come as German police carried out raids against suspected Islamist militants in several towns in North Rhine-Westphalia yesterday, the state's criminal police said.

Raids took place in Duisburg and Dortmund among others, the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper reported, and targeted preachers who are suspected of trying to recruit young men to fight in Syria and Iraq.

Germany is on high alert after a spate of attacks since last month that have left 15 dead, including four attackers, and dozens injured. Two of the attackers, a Syrian asylum seeker and a refugee from either Pakistan or Afghanistan, had links to Islamist militancy, officials say.

The country's Interior Minister will propose new security measures today, including speedier deportations and waiving doctor-patient confidentiality in some cases, German media reported.

Separately, police in south-west France arrested a 21-year-old man in connection with the killing of a priest in a Normandy church last month, judicial sources said yesterday.

The man arrested on Monday in the Toulouse area is the second to be held in connection with the murder of 85-year-old Jacques Hamel, whose throat was slit in front of worshippers while he was celebrating mass in the town of Saint-Etienne- du-Rouvray on July 26.

A police source said he had been in contact with the cleric's killers, who had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria group.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 11, 2016, with the headline 'German police arrest suspect linked to detention of refugee'. Print Edition | Subscribe