German authorities arrested three men Wednesday to disrupt an allegedly “imminent” bomb plot. Investigators said the men—two German citizens and a Turkish-born legal resident—intended to bomb American targets, possibly including the massive Ramstein air base, as well as the Frankfurt airport.
Federal prosecutor Monika Harms said that evidence indicated the men—all in their 20s—had links to al Qaida and trained at terrorist camps in Pakistan. They reportedly had chemicals for making explosives when they were arrested. ““This would have enabled them to make bombs with more explosive power than the ones used in the London and Madrid bombings,” Jörg Ziercke, head of the German Federal Crime Office.
There’s no question this was a “good day,” said Richard Meng in the daily Frankfurter Rundschau, but German police can’t afford to relax and pat themselves on the back. What looks like some “very professional” investigative work likely saved “many victims,” but the masterminds, financial backers, and a whole network of terrorists who worked with these men are still on the loose.
“To be sure, not all loose ends have been tied in Germany,” said Mike Nizza in The New York Times’ The Lede blog. But German intelligence officials were clearly on the ball. “Many terror plots emerge out of the blue,” but this one evidently was “much anticipated.” Germany has been warning there was something brewing since June.
This case is chilling—and not only for the obvious reasons, said Andrew Sullivan on AndrewSullivan.com. These men appear to be members of a German cell of the Islamic Jihad Union, a Sunni group that split off from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. “So the travails of Uzbekistan end up potentially killing Americans in Germany. Welcome to our new world.”