German police arrest Tunisian in raids across Hesse state

German police arrested a Tunisian man suspected of recruiting for the Islamic State group and planning an attack, as they carried out sweeping raids in the west of the country.
German police arrested a Tunisian man suspected of recruiting for the Islamic State group and planning an attack, as they carried out sweeping raids in the west of the country.PHOTO: AFP

BERLIN • More than 1,100 police officers searched 54 homes, business premises and mosques in Frankfurt and other towns in Germany's western state of Hesse early yesterday, arresting a Tunisian man suspected of planning an attack, the authorities said.

The 36-year-old Tunisian is suspected of recruiting for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Germany since August 2015 and building up a network with the aim of carrying out a terrorist hit in the country, said Frankfurt's prosecutor-general, who added that the authorities are investigating 16 suspects aged between 16 and 46, including the Tunisian.

There was no attack target yet, the prosecutor- general said.

Hesse's Interior Minister Peter Beuth said there had not been any immediate danger: "It was not about preventing an imminent attack - rather security forces in Hesse intervened early to protect citizens from the threat of harm."

He added that the officers involved in the raids had managed to "destroy an extensive Salafist network". Salafism is an ultra-conservative branch of Sunni Islam.

Police arrested three men in Berlin on Tuesday on suspicion of having close links to ISIS militants and planning to travel to the Middle East for combat training.

Many Germans feel unnerved after Anis Amri, a failed asylum seeker from Tunisia, killed 12 people at a Berlin Christmas market in December - the worst of a spate of attacks on civilians in Germany over the past year.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 02, 2017, with the headline 'German police arrest Tunisian in raids across Hesse state'. Print Edition | Subscribe