AP reports via the Washington Times:
Three militants from an Islamic group linked to al Qaeda were planning “imminent” bomb attacks against Americans in Germany when an elite anti-terrorist unit raided their small-town hide-out after months of intense surveillance, officials said yesterday.
The men — two German converts to Islam and a Turkish citizen who prosecutors said shared a “profound hatred of U.S. citizens” — purportedly obtained military-style detonators and enough chemicals to make bombs more powerful than those that killed 191 commuters in Madrid in 2004 and 52 in London in 2005.
Frankfurt International Airport and the nearby U.S. Ramstein Air Base reportedly were the suspects’ primary targets.
Prosecutors indicated police defused the danger earlier in the six-month investigation by stealthily substituting a harmless chemical for the raw bomb material amassed by the suspects. They said police moved in Tuesday when the suspected plotters seemed ready to try to make bombs.
Coming less than a week before the sixth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, it was the second consecutive day that European authorities announced they had thwarted a major attack. Danish officials said Tuesday they had broken up a bomb plot by arresting six Danish citizens and two other residents with links to senior al Qaeda terrorists.
Prosecutors said the three men arrested in Germany underwent training at camps in Pakistan run by the Islamic Jihad Union and had formed a German cell of the al Qaeda-influenced group. Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is thought to be hiding in Pakistan.
Officials said that during the first part of this year, the men acquired 12 containers of 35 percent hydrogen peroxide solution, which can be combined with other material to make explosives — as did the four London suicide bombers who blew up three subway cars and a bus on July 7, 2005.
Three of the four suicide pilots involved in the September 11 attacks had lived and studied in Hamburg, Germany.
This morning, the New York Daily News had this to say about the latest plot:
And now understand why the NYPD must maintain robust intelligence-gathering without civil-liberties nitpicking. And why the U.S. must be able to eavesdrop on suspect telephone and Internet communications abroad as well as between foreign countries and here without the time-consuming need to obtain a warrant. Lives depend on maintaining the strongest defenses and the utmost vigilance.