German police special forces arrested a 16.year.old Syrian man this morning (Thursday) at a train station in the west of the country, on suspicion of plotting an attack with domestic explosives on a synagogue in the city of Hagen on the eve of Yom Kippur. Police also raided the apartment where the young man lived with his family, and arrested his father and two brothers. The interior minister of the North Rhine.Westphalia state in which the incident took place said today that it was a “threat against an Islamist background”.
According to the German media, the “Foreign Intelligence Service” passed concrete information to the German authorities about the possible threat ahead of time, which led last night to the deployment of many police around the synagogue in the Hague city, with a small Jewish community of several hundred people, and canceled prayers. The interior minister said authorities had received “accurate information” on the suspect’s identity, possible location of action and planned time, and were therefore prepared accordingly. According to estimates in Germany, the young man shared information with an Islamist group or corresponded with some source about the planned attack. The state state justice minister said it was a “very serious threat”.
It is not yet clear whether explosives were found in the suspect’s apartment or elsewhere, after the attack was supposed to have been carried out using them. Police searched the apartment with the help of dogs trained to smell explosives, and also in the car where there was a suspicious suitcase. The interior minister said police were still unsure if the family members arrested were involved in the planning.
The incident comes about two years after a far.right terrorist tried to break into a synagogue in the city of Ella during Yom Kippur, and was stopped by a locked door. He then embarked on a murder spree in which he shot dead two passers.by, and in a period of escalating antisemitic incidents in the country.
The head of state of North Rhine.Westphalia, Armin Lasht, who is running for chancellor on behalf of the ruling party (CDU), addressed the event at an election rally today, saying “the concrete threat we face has been neutralized and we will do our best to investigate which networks played a role in the planned attack.“
Lasht added: “In Halla it was the radical right that carried out the attack, but in other cases these are Islamists, and in third place we have radicals on the left. We must fight extremism from all directions without hesitation.” Regarding reports that the young Syrian came to Germany as an asylum seeker, Lasht said: “Everyone (who wants to be here) should integrate into society, learn German and find a job and thereby stay — but those who plan terrorist attacks should be expelled from the country.“
The Social Democratic Party (SPD) candidate, Olaf Schultz, also condemned the possible attack, writing on Twitter: “It is sad that the Jewish community in Hagen is exposed to such a threat on Yom Kippur and cannot point it out together. It is our duty to do everything to protect it. And intervene immediately in the event of danger. “