Denmark and Germany said today that they prevented a possible Islamist terrorist attack, as part of a joint operation that triggered more than a dozen arrests in the two countries. However, they clarified that the potential attack would not be imminent.
At a joint press conference held at the Danish intelligence services (PET) headquarters, the Danish investigation team said it believed that the potential attack would target Denmark or Germany.
Components and products for making explosives, as well as weapons, were found during searches carried out in the context of the joint police operation, as explained by the head of Danish police intelligence operations, Flemming Dreyer, who further clarified that the elements found, namely the chemicals, had not yet been handled, suggesting that the attack would not be imminent.
“We found the ingredients to make a bomb. We believe that there was no immediate threat, nothing had been assembled or mixed. But we are not naive and we are not excluding anything ”, said the Danish researcher.
On Thursday, the public prosecutor’s office in the German region of Saxony-Anhalt reported that three Syrian brothers, suspected of preparing a terrorist attack with explosives, had been detained in recent days in Germany and Denmark.
According to German authorities, two of them were arrested last weekend in Denmark and the third in Hesse (central Germany).
The three men, aged between 33 and 40, are suspected of preparing “an act of serious violence that puts the state in danger”, the Saxony-Anhalt authorities said.
“Our security services have prevented an Islamic terrorist attack again,” said German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer today, further stating that the three detained brothers “were presumably preparing an attack in Europe”.
According to the German Public Prosecutor’s Office, police forces were able to locate the three Syrian brothers through online orders, made in January, for chemicals that can be used in the composition of an explosive.
The police also carried out house searches, including at a house in the German city of Dessau, where “10 kilos of black powder” were found.
In turn, Danish intelligence services confirmed the arrest of 13 people, eight men and five women, during an operation conducted last weekend in a large suburb of the Danish capital, Copenhagen.
“The operation took place due to suspicions of preparation for a terrorist attack motivated by militant Islam,” the Danish intelligence services confirmed today.
A flag of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (EI) group was found during searches in Danish territory, according to local authorities.
This information had already been advanced on Thursday by the German title Der Spiegel.
In Denmark, seven people were placed in pre-trial detention on suspicion “of planning one or more terrorist attacks or of participating in an attempted terrorist act”.
The remaining six people were detained for reasons not yet specified.
According to the local press, the group of detainees is composed of men and women.
German authorities remain on the alert regarding the Islamist threat in the country, notably since an attack in Berlin in December 2016 that claimed 12 lives, which was claimed by the extremist group EI.
It was the most deadly ‘jihadist’ attack on German soil.
Since 2009, German authorities have prevented 17 attempts at terrorist attacks, most since the 2016 attack, according to the German Interior Ministry.