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TERRORISM

Germany charges suspected IS member over alleged terror attacks

German federal prosecutors said Wednesday they were investigating an alleged member of the Islamic State terrorist group suspected of a series of acid and arson attacks, and of planning killings with a gun and explosives.

The suspect, named only as Muharrem D., faces charges of attempted murder against 27 people by arson, and of grievous bodily harm against six, as well as planning “a serious violent act endangering the state”.

Beginning in mid-April, Muharrem is believed to have committed a series of violent crimes against Turkish-owned businesses and a mosque in Waldkraiburg, a small town near Germany's border with Austria.

Investigators say he also secured a pistol with ammunition as well as “significant amounts” of bomb-making equipment for planned attacks on nearby mosques, the Turkish consulate in Munich and a major mosque in the western city of Cologne.

He manufactured 23 pipe bombs and 34 kilogrammes of explosives.

Investigators said in a statement that German citizen Muharrem “underwent a radicalisation process from 2017 onwards, becoming a follower of an Islamist-jihadist worldview as well as the 'Islamic State' (IS) terror group.”

Turkish intervention in the Syria conflict and other actions by Ankara were the basis for an “enduring hatred of the Turkish state and people of Turkish origin,” prosecutors said, adding that he aimed “to bring about a spiral of violence and retaliation” with his attacks.

People with ties to IS have committed several violent attacks in Germany in recent years, with the worst a ramming attack at a Berlin Christmas market in December 2016 that killed 12.

READ ALSO: Berlin remembers victims of Christmas market terror attack three years on

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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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