Wednesday, August 23, 2006

German Prosecutors: Second Bomb Suspect Identified

Germany's federal prosecutors have identified a second man in connection with two bombs found on German trains in July. The suspect is reported to have escaped arrest and fled Germany.

The second of two men accused of carrying suitcase bombs on the German trains on July 31 has been identified, German Federal Prosecutor Monika Harms said Tuesday afternoon. She added that the man had fled Germany and that his apartment was still being searched by investigators.

After the arrest of Youssef Mohamad E. H., a 21-year-old Lebanese students, in Kiel on Saturday, the second suspect is reported to be Dschihad Hamad, German news magazine Stern reported Tuesday, citing unnamed security sources.

The 20-year-old Lebanese man avoided arrest early Tuesday morning and is no longer in Germany, according to Berlin's Morgenpost newspaper and WDR radio.

The man is reported to have lived in the western city of Cologne, where authorities said they believed the two suspects carried bombs on board trains headed to the Dortmund and Koblenz.

Investigators confident of quick arrest

After saying over the weekend that investigators knew relatively little about the second man suspected of planting a suitcase bomb on a German local train at the end of July, Jörg Ziercke, the head of the Federal Crime Office said Monday he was "very optimistic" police would bring the manhunt to a quick and successful end.

He told German pubic broadcaster ZDF that "an amplitude of leads" pointing to involved parties in Lebanon, Germany and other European countries had come in since the arrest of a 21-year-old Lebanese student in Kiel on Saturday.

The deciding tip leading to arrest of the Youssef Mohamad E. H. came from Lebanese intelligence officers after they listened in to a conversation the man had after seeing his face on television, according to the German prosecutor's office.

The cooperation with foreign intelligence services was a deciding factor in the arrest and put police on the trail of the second suspect, said Klaus Uwe Benneter, a Social Democratic Party member of the German parliament's committee for the interior.

No clue on suspects' motives

The danger of a terrorist attack remains until authorities are able to catch the second suspect, Ziercke said, adding that the other suspect or other accomplices could attempt to carry out the attacks that failed on July 31 because of a construction error.

The two suspects' motives for the attacks also remain a mystery, German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble told Germany's ARD broadcaster, adding that the threat of terrorist attacks in Germany "unfortunately remains very real."

Alleged involvement in terrorist organization

Youssef Mohamad E. H. was reported to be involved in an Islamic organization called Hisb ut-Tahrir al Islami, a group banned in Germany since 2003 for promoting anti-Semitic propaganda, and to have had several acquaintances with "problematic connections," according to unnamed security officials quoted in Der Tagesspiegel newspaper on Tuesday.

Experts believe that the 21-year-old was radicalized by this organization -- which wants to create an Islamic state -- or by sympathizers of the party within his family, according to the paper.

He is being held in Karlsruhe on charges of attempted murder, belonging to a terrorist organization and attempting to cause an explosion.

DW staff

Deutsche Welle 08/2006


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