Germany can't get Isis mission off the ground
Germany’s pledge to help with the international mission against Islamic extremists Islamic State (Isis) got off to another false start on Wednesday when a transport plane carrying arms to Iraq was hit once again with a fault.
The country’s military has been embarrassed twice in less than a week with problems hitting its flights to Iraq on Friday and Wednesday.
On Wednesday, it was revealed that the Bundeswehr’s first and much-heralded flight to Iraq to deliver part of a €70-million shipment of arms to Kurds fighting Isis in the northern city of Irbil, was delayed.
The aircraft was meant to take off from Leipzig at 1.30 pm carrying weapons and ammunition to Baghdad and then the northern Iraqi city of Irbil.
But the Dutch Air Force plane, carrying anti-tank guns, machine guns and ammunition, has a defect, the Bundeswehr said.
The McDonnell Douglas KDC-10 plane will have to be repaired at the airport by its Dutch technicians, a spokesman said, adding they were unsure when it would be fit to fly.
Germany is hoping to send 600 tonnes of military gear to Iraq to 10,000 Kurdish Peshmerga fighters who are trying to halt the advance of Isis in northern Iraq.
There is also the matter of the seven military trainers sent by Germany to Irbil who had to change planes after their Transall was found to have a puncture before take off. Despite getting into the air, they have been stuck in Bulgaria since Friday awaiting Iraqi permission to enter the country.
An August report showed that of Germany’s 56 Transall transport aircraft, just 21 are fit to fly.
Fight at home more successful
Police on Tuesday raided the homes of seven people across Germany on suspicion of supporting the jihadist group Islamic State (Isis) fighting in Syria and Iraq.
The seven were suspected of having planned a "serious subversive act of violence", said Bavaria state's Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann and Justice Minister Winfried Bausback in a statement.
The raids were based on information that an ambulance vehicle financed through fundraising events in Germany was taken to Syria and turned into an improvised military personnel carrier with a mounted semi-automatic gun.
Other off-road vehicles were also taken to the combat zone, where Isis jihadists have swept across a large area of war-torn Syria and Iraq in recent months, they said.
No arrests were made, but evidence including computer hard drives were seized when police raided the homes of five suspects in Bavaria and others in Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia states, they said.
Berlin this month formally outlawed active support for the Isis group, including recruiting fighters and social media propaganda. Security agencies estimate that 400 German citizens have been or are fighting with the jihadists in Syria and Iraq.
German authorities are currently investigating 50 people in the state of Hesse alone with links to Isis. One is as young as 15.
German Police Union (DPolG) leader Rainer Wendt told Christian Democratic (CDU) members of parliament on Tuesday that more police were needed to stop German Muslims being radicalized.
"The state has to be present where preachers of hate and jihad recruiters are spreading their poison and ensnaring young people," he said. "Good contact between police, schools and mosques has to be developed so that radical Islamists don't have any chance."
On September 15th, alleged Isis fighter Kreshnik Berisha, 20, went on trial charged with membership of a foreign terrorist organisation.
Four days later prosecutors brought formal charges against suspects identified only as Karolina M., 25, and Jennifer Vincenza M. and Ahmed-Sadiq M., both 22, accused of sending money and camera equipment to help Isis make propaganda videos.
And on Monday this week police said they had arrested an unidentified Turkish man in Berlin suspected of having received arms and explosives training and having fought with Isis.