Two teenagers were arrested in Germany this week who, according to the Public Prosecution Service, had plans to commit a terrorist attack on the Leverkusen Christmas market. There would be ‘Islamic motives’. A man in his twenties was also arrested in Hannover for planning an attack on the Hannover Christmas market.
The Neuruppin and Düsseldorf public prosecutors are currently investigating two teenagers who allegedly plotted a terrorist attack on a Christmas market and a synagogue. 16-year-old Rasul M. was arrested in Wittstock, Brandenburg. According to Der Spiegel, he is a Russian citizen of Chechen descent. His suspected accomplice is 15-year-old German-Afghan Edris D. He was arrested by the police in Leverkusen, in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia that borders our country.
According to investigators, the two wanted to commit an attack in early December. In chats on the Telegram app they allegedly talked about ‘possible targets’. They also looked at a Christmas market and a synagogue. In the end they chose the Leverkusen Christmas market and a synagogue in Cologne. The manner in which they would carry out the attack was also discussed. For example, they thought of an attack with a truck or arson with Molotov cocktails. For the latter, the gasoline would have already been purchased. According to experts quoted in German media, the teenagers’ plans were still in their early stages.
According to Holger Heming of the Public Prosecution Service, the two had a “very specific thinking model”, which was based on the goals and methods of Islamic State. After the attack, they also reportedly planned to travel to Afghanistan and join the IS breakaway Khorasan Province. Rasul M. is said to have already been known to state security for distributing propaganda material and in Brandenburg he was already known as a supposedly relevant person in the Islamic scene.
A 20-year-old Iraqi was also arrested in Helmstedt, near Hannover, on November 21. The police would have had information that he was planning to commit a violent attack. He would focus on the Hannover Christmas market. He would have wanted to attack people with a knife. Here too, there were said to have been ‘Islamic motives’ and he was said to support IS.
The man was supposed to be deported from Germany on December 1, 2023, but he had no knowledge of this before his arrest, according to the police.
Real risk of attack
The war between Hamas and Israel has put the German security services on high alert. On Wednesday, Thomas Haldenwang, chairman of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), described the risk of jihadist attacks in Germany as “real” and “higher than it has been in a long time.”
The interior minister of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia Herbert Reul emphasized that security services must keep their eyes open at Christmas markets, but that the public should not be afraid. “The security authorities are alert, have good networks and exchange information quickly.”