German police take action to prevent suspected Islamist attack

Berlin prosecutors said the raids took place at nine locations.

By Associated Press

German police raided premises in four states early Tuesday on suspicion that Chechen Islamists were scouting locations for an attack, officials said.

Berlin prosecutors said the raids took place at nine locations in the German capital and the states of Brandenburg, North Rhine-Westphalia, and Thuringia.

In a statement, prosecutors said the suspects, who are aged 23 to 28, are accused of “having scouted out locations for a possible later attack motivated by Islamism.”

“According to current information there was no concrete threat of an attack yet,” prosecutors added.

Authorities acted after discovering photographs on a suspect’s cellphone during a police check.

Some 180 officers were involved in Tuesday’s raids, during which police seized cash, knives, and data storage devices.

In December, Germany announced that it was adding hundreds of new federal police officers and domestic intelligence agents as it steps up its fight against far-right extremism in the wake of several high-profile incidents in the past year.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said the Federal Criminal Police Office and the BfV intelligence agency would each add 300 positions dedicated to investigating and preventing far-right crimes, without weakening efforts focused on far-left crimes and Islamic extremism.

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There had been “terrible isolated incidents” that shook people’s confidence, he said.

The minister noted the October attack on a synagogue in the city of Halle in which the suspect posted an anti-Semitic screed before attacking the building, then killed two people outside when he could not get in, and the June slaying of a regional politician from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party who supported her welcoming stance toward refugees.

In October, The Wall Street Journal reported that far-right extremism had penetrated Germany’s security agencies.

According to the report, German authorities were worried that extreme-rightwing views were spreading among soldiers and police officers, sparking internal investigations to identify those in their ranks who may be sympathetic to the radical right.