German Terror Arrests: From the Rhine River to the Jihad

The arrest of two Muslim extremists at the Cologne-Bonn airport last week shows that German converts continue to volunteer for the jihad. Investigators fear that some are on their way back now that they’ve received training. It was Friday morning, shortly before 7:00 a.m., and all passengers had boarded KLM flight 1804 at the Cologne-Bonn airport. The small Fokker 50 was ready for takeoff. This particular Friday was a special day for devout Muslims, being one of the last days of the holy month of Ramadan. According to the literature distributed by radical Islamists, anyone who completes his journey to Jihad during Ramadan will go straight to paradise. At least two of the passengers — Abdirazak B., 24, and Omar D., 23, both Germans with Somali backgrounds — were aware of this.

But they weren’t the only ones. Criminal investigators from the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia had been trailing the two men — and when officials found a letter from a relative of Omar D. in the physics student’s luggage indicating that he had decided to join the “holy war,” they decided to strike. The plane was prevented from taking off and the pair’s path to Jihad came to an end on the Cologne-Bonn runway. The arrest of the duo was the result of an ongoing covert operation run by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Germany’s domestic intelligence agency. Investigators have long been keeping tabs on Islamists from Germany as they head for the Hindu Kush to train for the Jihad. For a number of weeks now, agents have maintained surveillance on a group of young fanatics in the Bonn region who are closely linked to the two detained German-Somalis. All these men are preparing to leave their lives in Germany behind them. Some have already given notice for their apartments, others have said farewell to friends. Abdirazak B. and Omar D. were more or less the vanguard of this group. At times the investigating agencies had even considered confiscating their passports. The suspects wanted to travel to Entebbe in Uganda, and investigators have reason to believe that they planned to continue from there to Pakistan. There was even talk of a possible attack against one of Uganda’s many well known Jewish institutions, a development that led German officials to alert the US government and the Israelis.

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Anti-Islam Conference: Right-Wing Populists to Gather in City of Immigrants

Europe’s right-wing populists want to build a united front to battle what they call the continent’s creeping Islamization at a conference set to take place in Cologne this weekend. Powerless to stop the event, local officials are anticipating the arrival of thousands of counterprotesters. Cologne’s Heumarkt, a cobblestone square in the city’s Old Town, is best known as the place where thousands and thousands of costumed revellers converge each Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. to ring in the new season of the most famous festival along the Rhine River, Carnival. This Saturday, though, Heumarkt will become the focal point for an altogether different and decidedly less cheerful event. Instead of the sound of relentlessly upbeat Carnival songs, the square will be filled with radical right-wing slogans and anti-Muslim baiting. Pro Cologne (Pro Köln), a group that has risen to political prominence in this city of 1 million with its vociferous campaign to stop the construction of a major mosque — and even landed seats on the City Council along the way — is to hold a conference aimed at halting what it describes as the creeping “Islamization” of Europe. It would be hard to find another German city where the debate over integration and the role of Islam has been as concrete and vocal as it has been here. And nowhere else has it been easier to observe the collateral damage that can occur when politicians attempt to address the fears many locals have about purported Islamization. Lenz Jacobsen reports.

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