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Thursday, 25 April, 2002, 18:50 GMT 19:50 UK
Germany remands terror suspects
German policeman
The raids spanned Germany, from Essen to Munich
German magistrates have remanded in custody nine men suspected of belonging to a militant Islamic group.

German Federal Prosecutor Kay Nehm
Nehm: Germany being used as "a base" for terror attacks

The men were arrested in a series of police raids in Germany over the past two days, and are alleged to belong to the radical Palestinian group Al Tawhid.

Eight men are accused of plotting to carry out attacks on civilian targets in the country, while the ninth man was arrested on an outstanding warrant, federal prosecutor Kay Nehm said.

The men include Jordanian, Egyptian and Iraqi nationals and Palestinians, officials said.

Three other men have been released due to lack of evidence.

Convicted terrorist

"We believe that American and British interests could have been intended and, given the escalation in the Middle East conflict, above all Jewish and Israeli interests," Bernhard Falk, deputy head of the Federal Criminal Office, told the Associated Press news agency.

German policeman guards synagogue in Berlin
Germany says it is concerned about potential Jewish and US targets

"Germany is being used as a base for attack planning."

Mr Nehm said that a search of more than 21 addresses over the past two days had uncovered Islamic 'jihad' propaganda, forged documents and passports and a handgun, however no chemicals or explosives were recovered.

Al-Tawhid is a loose group inspired by a spiritual leader known as Abu Qatadah.

He was last seen in Britain in December but disappeared just after the parliament there passed new internment laws in response to the 11 September attacks on America.

Abu Qatadah has been convicted in absentia by a military court in Jordan of planning attacks on American and Israeli targets.

'Logistical aid'

Mr Nehm said that the group revolved around one of the suspects picked up on Tuesday, a 36-year-old Iraqi-born Palestinian named only as Yasser H, who had led a branch of al-Tawhid in Jordan.

According to the prosecutor's office, the German cell was primarily involved in supplying fake identity documents and gathering donations, but had initially helped to provide logistical aid for fighters campaigning against Western forces in Afghanistan.

Its headquarters are believed to be in Britain.

However officials said they have found no link between the suspects and three of the 11 September hijackers - including Mohammed Atta - who were based in Hamburg.

Security concerns

Germany has been on high alert following an attack on a synagogue on the Tunisian island of Djerba, in which 16 people, including 11 German tourists died.

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Thursday promised his government would do everything to ensure a full investigation of the attack.

Security is also tight as the trial of five men over a plot to attack the Strasbourg Christmas market takes place in Frankfurt.

See also:

03 Dec 01 | Europe
EU to push through terror laws
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