• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Terror suspect goes on trial over plot to bomb cycle race
Police search the home of Halil D. in Oberursel. Photo: DPA

Terror suspect goes on trial over plot to bomb cycle race

The Local · 19 Jan 2016, 14:39

Published: 19 Jan 2016 14:39 GMT+01:00

In recent months Germans have become used to public events being cancelled.

There was the international football match against the Netherlands in November - just days after the Paris attacks.Then the street parties in Munich at New Year.

But, before all these, a bike race - scheduled to be held in Frankfurt on May 1st 2015 - was cancelled due to fears of an imminent terror threat.

And whereas reasons for police cancelling the Hannover and Munich events are still shrouded in mystery, a trial beginning in Frankfurt on Thursday will show exactly why authorities decided to shut down the sporting event.

Explosive ingredients and a bomb

On trial is one man, Halil D., a German citizen with Turkish roots, who prosecutors allege acted alone to build a pipe bomb with which he hoped to kill participants in the “Round the Finanzplatz” (Rund um den Finanzplatz) race, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reports.

Halil D. was initially arrested with his wife and the pair came to be known in sections of the German press as “the terror couple from Oberursel [a suburb of Frankfurt.]

Suspicions were first aroused when the pair bought a hydrogen peroxide solution in a local building supplier and Halil D. gave a false identity to the cashier.

Hydrogen peroxide was a component of the bombs used by terrorists to kill 52 people in London on July 7th 2005.

When police began to watch the 35-year-old, they noticed that he kept returning to points along the route of the upcoming cycle race, sometimes taking his family, sometimes simply going alone.

Upon searching Halil D.’s home, police found a homemade pipe bomb in the cellar, along with various other pieces of weaponry.

“We assume we managed to prevent an attack,” a police spokesperson said after taking him into custody.

The unemployed former chemistry student had let his beard grow long and had connections in the Salafist (a branch of Islamic fundamentalism) scene, the SZ reports.

Furthermore his own sister said that he had allowed himself to be brainwashed by Islamist radicals in recent years.

Islamophobia?

But Halil D.’s lawyer says that case against his client is thin and has asked if there would even be a trial if he didn’t have a Muslim-sounding name and a beard.

Halil’s wife Senay D. was released weeks after the arrests, having persuaded investigators that she knew nothing of the bomb in her cellar.

Both suspects also gave “plausible” accounts of why they had bought the hydrogen peroxide solution, claiming it was needed to get rid of mould in the apartment.

When investigators inspected the house they corroborated the fact that some of the solution had been used to tackle mould.

But of the 2.9 litres he had bought, this only accounted for 100 milliliters. The majority of the solution had still not been touched.

Story continues below…

There is also no concrete proof that Halil D. wanted to attack the bike race. Nor does he have established connections to a terror network.

The bomb itself has been described by experts as technically unsophisticated but dangerous within a proximity of eight to ten metres. Whether it is capable of killing people is also not clear.

An old school friend of Halil D.’s has told investigators that the two of them used to build explosives of this sort in their school days to blow up cigarette machines.

As for the other weapons found by police in the cellar, none of them is functional, experts have assessed.

Although Halil D. was more than willing to talk to police about the hydrogen peroxide solution and why he gave a false identity - he didn’t want trouble - he has stayed silent on the bomb.

As for the bike race, he has claimed he has “no idea where the accusations come from and what bike race they are talking about.”

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Today's headlines
Analysis
How Merkel reacts to crises better than other leaders
Photo: DPA

It is of critical importance for a country how a leader chooses to react to an act of terrorism. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cool head sets an example for the rest of the country.

Turkey demands Germany extradite Gülen supporters
Fethullah Gülen. Photo: DPA

Ankara called on Germany on Thursday to extradite supporters of Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, whom the Turkish government accuses of plotting a failed coup earlier this month.

German police raid 'hotbed of radicalization'
Police entering one of the residences. Photo: DPA

A mosque and eight residences were searched.

Germany boasts Europe's best value beaches
This beach just got named Europe's cheapest. Do you know where it is? Photo: DPA

Forget Mallorca or the Costa del Sol - the best beach bargains can be found in Germany. But where?

After rampages, Merkel says again: Wir schaffen das
Photo: DPA

Speaking for the first time after a Syrian refugee blew himself up in southern Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel reaffirmed her commitment to helping refugees on Thursday.

The Local List
Germany's five most mind-boggling conspiracy theories
What's the point of this mysterious tower at Tempelhof Airport? Photo: DPA.

Think that wacky paranoid types only exist in the USA? Here’s a few crazy German conspiracies to prove you wrong.

Munich shooting
Gunman's friend arrested for 'planning school attack'
File photo: DPA

Police found chemicals and instructions for making explosives, as well as evacuation plans of his school in the youth's possession.

Bremen mall evacuated due to escaped psychiatric patient
Police outside the mall. Photo: DPA

The man had reportedly made worrying statements relating to Isis and last week's shooting in Munich.

German ambassador to Turkey left out in cold
Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photo: DPA

The Turkish government has been giving German ambassador Martin Erdmann the cold shoulder for weeks, after German parliamentarians passed a bill recognizing the Armenian genocide.

Ansbach suicide bomber was interviewed by Bulgarian TV
Photo: DPA

A Syrian who blew himself up outside a German music festival at the weekend was interviewed twice by Bulgarian television while living there in 2013, footage showed on Wednesday.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
DPA
Gallery
IN PICTURES: How Munich responded to shooting spree
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
National
Bavaria train attack: Were police right to shoot to kill?
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Travel
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
National
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Culture
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
National
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Lifestyle
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Society
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
Lifestyle
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Culture
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Lifestyle
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
Features
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
11,042
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd