Al-Qaida suspects were ‘testing shrapnel bomb’

German authorities say the three suspected al-Qaida terrorists arrested on Friday were experimenting with building a shrapnel bomb designed to hurt as many people as possible in an attack.

Al-Qaida suspects were 'testing shrapnel bomb'
Police officers remove potential evidence from a suspect flat. Photo: DPA

Speaking at a press conference on Saturday morning, Rainer Griesbaum, deputy federal prosecutor, said although the group had been planning to set the bomb off in a big group of people, no specific target had been chosen.

They were, “still in the experimental phase,” he said.

Griesbaum said one of the three men arrested – named only as Abdeladim K. – had received the order to plan an attack in Germany from an important member of al-Qaida last year.

The 29-year-old from Morocco is said to have been in regular contact with the al-Qaida man, who is in the Afghan-Pakistan border region.

Griesbaum identified the other two men arrested as 31-year-old Jamil S., a German-Moroccan, and 19-year-old Amid C., a German-Iranian.

He said it would seem possible that they were considering attacking some big event in the Düsseldorf area, such as the Eurovision Song Contest, which is to be held there on May 14.

Jörg Ziercke, president of the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (BKA), said the ringleader had been in Germany since last November – illegally – in order to prepare the attack.

He had connections to Austria, Morocco and Kosovo, said Ziercke.

Der Spiegel reported on Saturday that not only the German secret service but also the CIA and the Moroccan authorities had been involved in the three-month operation codenamed Komet, which resulted in Friday’s arrests.

The BKA had planted a Trojan virus on the computer of one of those arrested, enabling them to listen to his phone calls and watch his emails. The arrests were ordered after investigators heard the three men planning a test, shortly after having bought a variety of chemicals which could be used in a bomb.


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Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.