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Germany Arrests 6 Syrian Migrants Suspected of ISIS Links

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Germany Arrests 6 Syrian Migrants Suspected of ISIS Links

Post Vendég on Tue 21 Nov - 21:24

By DAN BILEFSKY and KATARINA JOHANNSENNOV. 21, 2017


The police in Germany arrested six Syrian migrants on Tuesday, suspected of plotting an attack and having links to the Islamic State, fanning fears that extremists posing as refugees were targeting Europe.

Millions of refugees, buffeted by conflict and civil war, have streamed into Europe in recent years, including an estimated one million who came to Germany in 2015. But while many Germans initially welcomed Chancellor Angela Merkel’s embrace of the refugees, viewing it as a powerful emblem of openness and liberalism, a backlash has been simmering after a spate of attacks across the continent.

Germans have dark memories of an attack in December, when Anis Amri, a Tunisian who had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, hijacked a truck and plowed through a Christmas market in central Berlin, killing at least a dozen people.

On Tuesday, Christian Hartwig, a spokesman for the Frankfurt prosecutor’s office, said that 500 police officers had stormed eight apartments in the German cities of Essen, Hanover, Kassel and Leipzig in early morning raids, and arrested the suspects. The men, ages 20 to 28, had been posing as refugees, Mr. Hartwig said.

He said the men were suspected of acting on behalf of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, and were planning an attack using weapons or explosives. They had arrived in Germany between December 2014 and September 2015, he added, a period when millions of refugees were heading to Europe. All six had applied for asylum, though Mr. Hartwig did not say if they had been granted that status.

The German newspaper Die Welt said that several cellphones, laptops and documents had been seized during the raids. It said that the suspects had arrived in Germany using fake identity papers and that the arrests had followed a tip from other refugees.

The news could hardly have come at a worse time for Ms. Merkel, who is facing a political crisis after negotiations to form a new government collapsed on Monday. The arrests could stoke criticism of Ms. Merkel for being too open to refugees and for allowing humanitarian imperatives to trump security concerns.

German news reports said the men had been plotting an assault on a Christmas market in Essen, in northwestern Germany, though Mr. Hartwig said it was too early to confirm the planned target or date. The authorities have called for added vigilance around festivities this year, and cities across Germany are planning to install concrete barriers around markets and to increase police presence.

After several terrorist attacks, anxieties about the threat of Islamist radicalism have grown, helping to embolden the far-right Alternative for Germany party, which broke a postwar taboo by entering the federal parliament for the first time in elections in September.

The latest arrests fueled concerns across Europe that terrorists were masquerading as refugees to infiltrate the continent. The influx of refugees has strained border controls and prompted alarm that a small but significant number of militants could use the turmoil to slip through the cracks.

According to Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, there are an estimated 24,000 Islamists in Germany, of whom about 700 are regarded as dangerous. The agency’s president, Hans-Georg Maassen, was quoted by the news agency Reuters in July as saying that seven terrorist attacks had failed or been thwarted in 2016.

Fears that terrorists disguised as refugees were entering Germany intensified last year after it emerged that an Algerian couple, suspected of planning a terrorist attack in Berlin, had arrived the previous year and applied for asylum as Syrian refugees. The couple, who had been under surveillance at a refugee shelter, were arrested in February in Attendorn, Germany, about an hour’s drive northeast of Cologne.

Hundreds of women were sexually assaulted and robbed during New Year’s celebrations on the New Year’s Eve in 2015 in Cologne, in attacks linked by the police to young men with Arabic or North African roots. The incident shook Germany and spurred debate about the integration of migrants from Muslim-majority countries.

Nations across Europe, including Austria, Denmark, Germany and Sweden, have been tightening immigration rules or border controls in response to anti-immigrant sentiment. In Germany, the authorities have been clamping down on bogus asylum claims and have expelled several Afghan men.

Amnesty International recently accused European countries of putting thousands of Afghan refugee seekers, including children, at risk by sending them home.

Hungary, evoking the treatment of refugees during World War II, recently introduced plans to detain asylum seekers in small villages surrounded by razor wire.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/21/world/europe/germany-isis-refugees.html

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Re: Germany Arrests 6 Syrian Migrants Suspected of ISIS Links

Post Neon Knight on Tue 21 Nov - 21:35

Exactly what some critics of the 'welcome refugees' policy warned about. Now that the IS army is being destroyed there could be more terrorist attacks.

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