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Lebanon alerts Germany to ‘terrorist attacks’

January 13, 2008

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BERLIN, Jan 12: Lebanese authorities warned of terrorist attacks on targets within Germany after arresting an Al Qaeda suspect in Beirut, prompting the Justice Ministry in Berlin increase security, authorities said Saturday.

“There was a tip from Lebanon – a warning tip,” said Stefanie Amft, a spokeswoman for German federal police.

She gave no further details, except to say it was part of a global threat. “It is known that Germany is part of this worldwide threat,” she said. Germany was alerted after Lebanese authorities arrested a suspect on Thursday who was believed to have phoned a threat to the German Embassy in Beirut earlier in the week, a senior Beirut police official said.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation, said suspect Mohammed Naddoum was arrested after allegedly threatening to strike German security targets.

“Using special technology, the police were able to trace the man’s location and identity and arrest him’” the official said.

Naddoum confessed to making the call and having ties to Al Qaeda, the official said, adding that “investigations are still under way to confirm his affiliations and intentions”.

The official said police also arrested a Palestinian identified as Khodr al-Hinnawi on Friday after Naddoum repeatedly mentioned his name in interrogations.

Police were in contact with officials from the German Embassy in Lebanon, the official said.

Germany’s Focus magazine, identified the suspect as “Mohammed N.”, reported that he was a Syrian accused of Al Qaeda ties. It did not cite its sources.

The suspect allegedly said a German-Turk, a Saudi and an Australian already were in Germany planning an attack on Berlin’s Justice Ministry or other agencies to avenge the prosecution of Al Qaeda suspects in that country, the Focus report said. It said explosives for the alleged attack were already inside Germany. A Justice Ministry spokeswoman, speaking on customary condition of anonymity, refused to confirm any details but said officials were aware of the issue and had taken “increased security measures” to protect employees.

Amft would not elaborate on security precautions.

Der Spiegel magazine, also without citing sources, reported that explosives were still on their way and were thought to be coming to the northern city of Rostock through Russia and Finland.

It said the potential attackers wanted revenge for the September 2007, arrest of Fritz Martin Gelowicz and other suspects accused of plotting to attack a US military base in Germany and other targets.—AP