- Two teens among three Syrians arrested in northern Germany
- Men allegedly sent to Europe by IS arrived last November
Three suspected Islamic State members arrested in Germany have connections with last year’s Paris attackers, with evidence suggesting they used the same people traffickers and passport forgers to get to Europe, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said.
The three men taken into custody during raids in northern Germany on Tuesday arrived in the country in mid-November via the so-called Balkan route “on a mission” from Islamic State, de Maiziere told reporters in Berlin. German investigators haven’t found evidence of specific attack plans, though the men may have been awaiting instructions, he said.
“Investigations so far point to links with the Paris attackers of November 2015,” the minister said. “This may have been a sleeper cell.”
All of the suspects have Syrian passports and “all of the evidence indicates” the travel documents came “from the same shop” as those linked to some of the Paris attackers and the “the same trafficking organization” brought them to Europe, de Maiziere said. Federal prosecutors gave their ages as 17, 18 and 26.
More than 200 federal and state police officers raided the men’s residences in Schleswig-Holstein state near the Danish border on Tuesday on warrants citing alleged membership of a terrorist group, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office in Karlsruhe said in a statement.
The three are suspected of having entered Germany together in mid-November on behalf of IS, which gave them passports, cash and mobile phones with preinstalled communications software. Security officials conducted surveillance on the suspects before the raids and are still examining mobile phones seized in the raids, de Maiziere said.
The suspects, whose last names were withheld under German privacy rules, traveled through Turkey and Greece to get to Germany, prosecutors said.