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TERRORISM

Two brothers arrested on suspicion of bomb plot against shopping mall

Police special forces arrested two young men in Duisburg, western Germany, on Friday morning, saying they planned to bomb a shopping centre.

Two brothers arrested on suspicion of bomb plot against shopping mall
Police at the Centro mall in Oberhausen. Photo: DPA

The 28-year-old and 31-year-old brothers, born in Kosovo, are suspected of planning the attack on the Centro shopping mall in Oberhausen.

Centro is one of the largest shopping centres in Germany. Built in an abandoned steel factory 20 years ago, it is home to 250 shops on two floors.

“We are intensively investigating how much progress they had made in their plan and whether other people were involved in the plot,” a spokesperson for the police said.

Already on Thursday evening police upped their presence at the mall and the adjacent Christmas market, after receiving a tip off from an intelligence service.

Groups of six or eight officers could be seen patrolling the area with machine guns, checking the identities of shoppers and passersby.

Bild reports that the tip off came from Germany’s domestic security agency, the BfV. According to this report ambulance and fire services were put on high alert, in case anything should happen during the operation.

At this stage police are providing few further details about the arrests, but have said that they are not directly linked to the attack on a Christmas market in Berlin on Monday, which killed 12 people.

Police are currently searching for Tunisian man, Anis Amri, as the main suspect for the crime.

“There is no connection with the Amri case other than that they both have a terrorist background,” a spokesperson told the Süddeustche Zeitung.

TERRORISM

Anti-Semitism ‘massive problem’ in Germany, says Jewish leader on terror attack anniversary

On the second anniversary of a far-right terror attack at a German synagogue, the German Jewish Council has warned that the government needs to make more efforts to stop the spread of anti-Semitism online.

Anti-Semitism 'massive problem' in Germany, says Jewish leader on terror attack anniversary
A star of David on the roof of the Halle synagogue. Photo: dpa-Zentralbild | Hendrik Schmidt

Two years after a terrorist attack in the east German town of Halle that left two people dead, Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews, said that more needed to be done in the fight against anti-Semitism and right-wing extremism.

“The spread and incitement of hate, for example in the form of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories via social media, is a massive problem,” Schuster told DPA.

On October 9th 2019, a heavily armed right-wing extremist called Stephan Balliet tried to enter the Halle city synagogue on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.

When he failed to do so, he shot a 40-year-old passerby. He later killed a 20-year-old man at a kebab shop. While trying to escape, the 28-year-old injured several people before he was caught by the police.

The city of Halle is commemorating the event on Saturday, with wreaths to be laid at the scene of the crime. Reiner Haseloff, state leader of Saxony-Anhalt, is expected to attend.

Balliet was sentenced to life in prison in 2020 by the Naumburg Higher Regional Court. His sentence will be followed by preventive detention.

Funs for synagogue security

While praising the German government for introducing a law that makes social media companies responsible for hateful content posted on their sites, Schuster said that the legislation needed to be extended to messenger services such as Telegram.

“We must do everything we can to ensure that the internet is not a lawless space,” he said.

According to Schuster, the German government reacted quickly after the Halle attack by providing money to improve security at Jewish institutions.

This was an important step, he said. “However, there is still much to be done at the political and social level to combat growing anti-Semitism.”

SEE ALSO: Four held over foiled ‘Islamist’ attack on German synagogue

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