Terror suspects posed as refugees to enter Europe

An Algerian man poses next to firearms and ammunition in an undisclosed location in a handout picture provided by the German Police on Feb 5, 2016.
An Algerian man poses next to firearms and ammunition in an undisclosed location in a handout picture provided by the German Police on Feb 5, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

BERLIN • An Algerian couple, suspected of planning a terrorist attack in Berlin and arrested on suspicion of belonging to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), entered Germany late last year and applied for asylum as Syrian refugees - part of a pattern of terror suspects entering Europe under the guise of fleeing war, German authorities said last Friday.

Police in Berlin published a photograph they said was of the husband. It showed a bearded man with his face blacked out, pointing a pistol at the camera, with two Kalashnikov rifles propped up beside him on a sofa strewn with other weapons. The photo was believed to have been taken in Syria, where German media reports said the man had received terrorist training with ISIS.

The man, not named by police but identified by the media as Farid A., 34, and his wife, 27, had been sought on an international warrant initiated by Algerian authorities.

They were under surveillance at their refugee shelter in the town of Attendorn, about an hour's drive north-east of Cologne, and were arrested in coordinated raids in three states last Thursday. They were suspected of plotting an attack in Berlin, the police said last Friday.

As many as one million asylum seekers entered Germany last year. An initial warm welcome, particularly for Syrians, soured after the terrorist attacks in and around Paris in November, which killed 130 people, and the police found documents suggesting that some assailants had entered Europe posing as refugees.

Hundreds of assaults and robberies during New Year's Eve celebrations in Cologne, attributed to young men of Arab or North African backgrounds, further heightened fears over the consequences of the migrant influx.

Last Friday, head of Germany's domestic intelligence agency, Mr Hans-Georg Maassen, said ISIS was using the wave of newcomers to infiltrate Europe.

NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 07, 2016, with the headline 'Terror suspects posed as refugees to enter Europe'. Print Edition | Subscribe