Suspects in Christmas Terror Plot Released; On the Loose in Germany

Suspects in Christmas Terror Plot Released; On the Loose in Germany

A possible terror plot on a Christmas market in Germany has been uncovered after six Syrian nationals were detained in raids by police, a German intelligence official said.

Almost 500 police officers took part in apartment raids which were conducted in the cities of Kassel, Hannover, Essen, and Leipzig, Reuters reported.

Around 500 police officers took part in the raids on eight addresses in four states, taking six Syrian men aged between 20 and 28 years old into custody, as well as seizing mobile phones, computers, and paperwork.

The plot had not yet advanced beyond the planning stage, prosecutors said. Four of them had arrived in Germany in December 2014, and two in 2015.

The men were targets of an investigation "into suspicion of membership in a terrorist organization and for preparation of terror attack", the original statement said. But the Frankfurt public prosecutor said there was "insufficient evidence" they were preparing an attack or were in any way linked to ISIS, a spokesman told AFP.

Hessenschau, a regional TV channel, and Bild newspaper, both reported that the suspected target was the Christmas market in Essen. Refugees tipped off investigators about the men, who were reportedly active ISIS fighters in Syria.

German security forces have been on high alert to the threat of terrorist attacks, particularly after a truck rampage claimed by terrorist killed 12 people in Berlin last December. The suspect had pledged allegiance to ISIS in a video posted hours before the attack.