Three Syrian men have been arrested on suspicion of planning an attack in Germany for ISIS, the federal public prosecutor said on Thursday.
The arrests came after a fourth member of the suspected terror cell turned himself in to French authorities on Feb. 1 and told officials about the alleged plot, the prosecutor said.
The federal prosecutor’s office said the three men were arrested in three different German states on Thursday.
It said in a statement that 27-year-old Hamza C., 25-year-old Mahood B. and 31-year-old Abd Arahman A.K. had been arrested in the states of North Rhine-Westphalia, Brandenburg and Baden-Wuerttemberg. Their homes were being searched.
The federal public prosecutor also said that an arrest warrant had been issued for another Syrian man, 25-year-old Saleh A.
Two of the accused – Saleh A. and Hamza C. – had joined ISIS in Syria in the spring of 2014 and got instructions from the group’s leadership to carry out an attack in the old town of Düsseldorf, a city in western Germany, the federal prosecutor said.
They later persuaded the other men to take part in the attack, the prosecutor said.
Saleh A. and Hamza C. planned for two men to blow themselves up on the Heinrich-Heine-Allee, a busy road in the city centre, and then other attackers were expected to kill as many pedestrians as many passers-by as possible with guns and explosive devices, the statement said.
The two traveled to Turkey in May 2014 with ISIS’ approval, it added. In March and July 2015, they traveled separately via Greece to Germany.
The pair convinced Mahood B to join the plot at some point before January this year, prosecutors said.
Also in January, Saleh A contacted Abd Arahman AK, who had traveled to Germany in October 2014 with instructions from ISIS to take part in the attack. According to prosecutors, Abd Arahman AK, who had made suicide vests and grenades for the extremist Nusra Front group in Syria, was supposed to make the suicide vests for the planned attack.
The prosecutor said there was no evidence that the suspects had actually started concretely implementing the attack plans.
He also stressed that the arrests are not related to the Euro 2016, which kicks off in France next week.