Six Syrian men suspected of planning an ISIS inspired attack were arrested by German police on Tuesday. However, by Wednesday evening, the Frankfurt prosecutor’s office said the six asylum seeker terror suspects were released without charge, as officials found there wasn’t “sufficient evidence of a terror plot” to hold them.
Christian Hartwig of the prosecutor’s office said there are indications the men have had contacts with ISIS, but they had “no concrete evidence” the suspects were members of the ISIS group, according to a CNN report.
Prosecutors said on Tuesday that they suspected the men were plotting a coordinated attack using “weapons and explosives.” Original reports said the men were believed to have links to ISIS and that their target may have been a Christmas market located in Essen, Germany.
The alleged plotters were arrested Tuesday morning during raids involving 500 officers across 4 towns: Kassel, Hannover, Essen and Leipzig. According to local reports, the raids were carried out at dawn, at eight separate addresses. Mobile phones, laptops, SIM cards and other items were seized from the apartments, according to the Daily Express, who added that it was NOT reported that explosive materials were actually found.
The six suspects arrested Tuesday were originally suspected of plotting an attack on the same date as a terrorist plowed through a Christmas market last year, killing 12 people and injuring 50 others.
The suspects, whose names were withheld due to German privacy laws, were identified as Syrian citizens between the ages of 20 and 28. They were in Germany as asylum-seekers, reportedly having arrived between December 2014 and September 2015.
According to The Daily Mail, Police were acting on a tip from refugees in the country who heard of the plot. They report:
Prosecutors refused to give further details, citing the ongoing investigation, but said the men had not yet finished preparing their attack. Germany remains on high alert after a year of terror-related bloodshed in 2016.
Concrete blocks have been installed around Christmas markets at several central squares in the capital this year before the festive season opens in a couple of weeks.
Domestic security officials estimate there are some 10,000 radical Islamists in Germany, with roughly 1,600 among them suspected of being capable of violence.
German police arrested a 19-year-old Syrian in October, who was suspected of plotting to use “powerful explosives” in an ISIS-related terror attack, the Daily Mail reported.
German authorities remain vigilant about attacks as the anniversary of last year’s atrocity in a Berlin Christmas market approaches. On December 19 last year, Tunisian-born Anis Amri drove a truck into pedestrians enjoying the Breitscheidplatz Christmas market, killing 12 people and injuring dozens. Amri was later identified as an ISIS fanatic who was well-known to police. He had previously been identified as a potential terrorist.
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