Four Islamic militants standing trial for planning big bomb attacks on U.S. targets in Germany have confessed to the charges, defense lawyers said on Thursday. The planned attacks were designed to be as destructive as the September 11, 2001 strikes in the United States, prosecutors said, adding that the defendants had identified bars, discos and the U.S. Ramstein air base as possible targets. Johannes Pausch, the lawyer representing defendant Daniel Schneider, said all four militants were making confessions. “My client is currently doing so; yesterday, today and tomorrow at the Federal Crime Office,” he told Reuters.”The others are also in the process of doing so. The whole thing should be concluded this week.” The charges against the four men include preparing bomb attacks and being members of a terrorist organization. If convicted, they face up to 15 years in jail. Lawyer Pausch said his client was hoping to get a reduced sentence by confessing. Two defendants, Schneider and Fritz Gelowicz, are German converts to Islam, while Atilla Selek is a German citizen of Turkish origin, and Adem Yilmaz is a Turkish citizen. Schneider would plead guilty in court to planning the attacks, Pausch said. Matthias Inverardi Reports.
Two Muslim converts and two Turks go on trial in a bomb-proof courtroom in Düsseldorf today accused of plotting to blow up German civilians and US soldiers. “The world will burn!” boasted an intercepted e-mail sent between the accused, who are alleged to have wanted to wage an Islamic holy war in the heart of Europe. Three of the men — Fritz Gelowicz, 29, Daniel Schneider, 23 and the Turkish national Adem Yilmaz, 30 — are accused of attending a training camp on the Afghan-Pakistani frontier run by an Uzbek-based terror organisation known as the Islamic Jihad Union.
Intelligence services say that it has links with al-Qaeda. Using detonators — supplied, the state prosecutor claims, by Attila Selek, 24, a German citizen of Turkish origin — the gang prepared bombs with the explosive force of 410kg (904lb) of TNT, to be set off in and around the US Ramstein air base and other targets. The bombers in London on July 7, 2005, had 4kg of explosive.
Germany has so far been spared a bloody Islamist terror attack. But it only took two planned attacks in Germany to persuade a majority of the population to support a massive dismantling of civil rights. Jihad and Fritz. It would be hard to imagine two names much more different than these. Yet there is one thing these two young men with their thoroughly Muslim and German first names have in common. The media attention they attracted to themselves in 2006 and 2007 triggered shifts in German public opinion similar to those brought about by the series of murders perpetrated by the far-left terror group the Red Army Faction three decades ago. Lebanese student Jihad Hamad, 20, came to Cologne in the spring of 2006. On July 31 of the same year, he and a fellow Lebanese national took two suitcase bombs they had made and placed them on regional trains. Fortunately the bombs were not assembled correctly and failed to go off. However, the nation was shaken by press reports alleging ties to al-Qaida and evoking scenes that could have been reality if the attack had succeeded — huge balls of fire, wrecked trains, dozens of dead and injured. Then in September 2007, Fritz Gelowicz, a 28-year-old German who had converted to Islam while still in high school, was arrested in Oberschledorn, a small town in Germany’s Sauerland region, along with two fellow Muslims. The three men, known as the Sauerland cell, had purchased 12 barrels of hydrogen peroxide for the apparent purpose of making bombs. Once again the police, the press and the government speculated about connections to Osama bin Laden and the scale of the disaster an attack of this kind could have caused. Prior to the public alarm caused by the cases involving Jihad and Fritz, the danger of Islamist mass murder in Germany was thought to be as remote as the Hindu Kush mountain range in Afghanistan. In contrast to the United States (2,973 dead in 2001), Spain (191 dead in 2004), and the United Kingdom (56 dead in 2005), Germany has thus far been able to avoid an Islamist massacre on its territory. Jochen B_lsche reports.
Investigators believe Attila Selek is part of a cell of Islamist terrorists led by Fritz Gelowicz, who allegedly plotted to bomb US Army bases in Germany. But Selek, who was arrested last week in Turkey at the end of an interview with SPIEGEL, insists he is innocent. Holger Stark reports.