The Lower Saxon interior ministry said on Thursday that one of the men was a 27-year-old from Algeria, while the other was 23 and from Nigeria.
Police would not comment on the exact alleged plans by the two suspects, but they had reportedly been long active in the Islamist scene. Both had lived for years with their families in Göttingen. Police also said that the alleged plot was not exclusively related to Göttingen.
Around 450 police officers were deployed in raids to search 11 buildings around Göttingen and one house in northern Hesse late on Wednesday night. The two were then arrested during the raids.
Göttingen’s police chief Uwe Lührig said that they had gained knowledge of a possible concrete and imminent attack in the past few days, and therefore a quick police operation was necessary.
“We had, in my assessment, absolutely no other option,” Lührig said.
Police said later in the afternoon that the two suspects could have enacted the attack at any time.
The raids discovered reconstructed weapons with large amounts of ammunition, and police called the risk of danger “undisputed”.
Intelligence agents have had extremist Islamists in Göttingen on their radars in recent years. One expert said that the scene includes both German converts to Islam, as well as Germans with immigration backgrounds.
About 42 percent of the people who have traveled from Lower Saxony to Syria to join Islamists there came from Göttingen.