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Cologne/Bonn: Investigators arrest suspected IS supporter at the airport

Cologne/Bonn: Investigators arrest suspected IS supporter at the airport

A man is said to have transferred money to an IS offshoot via a crypto exchange – he is now in custody. Many details are still unclear. But there is apparently also a connection to the European Football Championship.

The Federal Prosecutor’s Office has arrested a suspected IS supporter in North Rhine-Westphalia. The suspect was arrested on Friday at Cologne/Bonn Airport, a spokesman for the Karlsruhe authority said on Saturday when asked. The investigators accuse the man, who has German-Moroccan-Polish nationality, of having transferred a total of almost 1,700 US dollars to an account of the terrorist group Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISPK) via a cryptocurrency exchange in September 2023.

According to reports, the suspect is being investigated on suspicion of supporting a terrorist organization abroad and violating foreign trade law. The subject of the arrest warrant is the money payments, said the spokesman. It also remains unclear whether the man wanted to travel abroad from the airport. The suspected terrorist supporter was brought before the investigating judge at the Federal Court of Justice. He has been in custody since Friday evening.

The “Bild” newspaper had previously reported on the case – and also on a connection to the upcoming European Football Championship in Germany. The spokesman for the Federal Prosecutor’s Office did not want to comment on the report. He also left further details of the case open. A statement is planned for the beginning of the week, it was said.

Possible connection to the European Championship

According to dpa information, the man applied to work as a steward and security guard for so-called side events outside of football stadiums, including public viewings. He failed the application check, which every applicant goes through, according to security sources. A total of 51 European Championship games will take place in ten cities in this country from June 14 to July 14.

Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) told the “Rheinische Post” (Monday): “The arrest of an Islamist terror suspect at Cologne/Bonn Airport shows that the security authorities are extremely vigilant and are striking hard to protect our country against Islamist threats.” This also applies to suspected supporters who want to provide terrorist organizations such as the ISPK with money from Germany. The federal and state governments are doing everything they can to ensure the highest level of security for the European Football Championship.

NRW Interior Minister Herbert Reul (CDU) announced: “Our security authorities are keeping a sharp eye on things. The security apparatus before the European Championship is working.” The security situation during the tournament will be controlled from a specially set up police situation center in Neuss in North Rhine-Westphalia. More than 600 officers from Germany and abroad will work there. “But the truth is that there is no such thing as 100 percent security,” said Reuss.

According to the “Bild” report, the suspect also tried to get accredited for two other major events in Germany – also without success. His apartment was searched. According to “Bild”, investigators seized cell phones, data storage devices, computers and “suspicious recordings”. The man is said to remain silent on the allegations.

The ISPK – an offshoot of the terrorist militia Islamic State – has its origins in Afghanistan. Khorasan stands for a historical region in Central Asia. This included parts of Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan as well as Iran.

Terrorist group ISPK planned attacks in Europe

According to Faser, the greatest Islamist threat in Germany currently comes from the ISPK. The terrorist group has repeatedly appeared in recent months: Western security authorities and experts assume that the ISPK is responsible for the attack in Moscow on March 22nd. At that time, four men stormed an event center on the outskirts of the city, shot wildly and set a fire. More than 140 people were killed in the worst terrorist attack in Russia in years. Several suspected terrorists and backers are in custody.

In March, two ISPK terror suspects were arrested in Gera in Thuringia. The two men from Afghanistan are said to have prepared an attack on the Swedish parliament in response to Koran burnings. The IS offshoot is also linked to plans for attacks on Christmas 2023 in Cologne, Vienna and Madrid.

According to security authorities, militant Islamists are trying to cause unrest in Germany ahead of the European Football Championship. Calls for terrorist violence published by the ISPK are “part of the ongoing propaganda campaign to stir up unrest and trigger individual perpetrators,” security sources said in May. The group had previously published a video game-style image on one of its channels showing a man in a stadium with an automatic weapon.

Source: Stern

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