Germans hunt 10-man terror cell

September 7, 2007 The Age

GERMAN security officials are searching for 10 men they believe provided support for a foiled plot to attack US installations in the country.

German authorities revealed on Wednesday that they had arrested three men - two German converts to Islam and a Turkish resident of Germany - who were on the verge of launching "massive bomb attacks" more deadly than the Madrid and London bombings of recent years.

August Hanning, state secretary in the Interior Ministry and a former head of Germany's foreign intelligence service, yesterday said the three men had backers at home and abroad who were still being tracked.

"They are Germans, Turks and there are other nationalities as well," Dr Hanning told public television station ARD. "This is the network we have identified." ...

Terrorism analysts said the plot to bomb Frankfurt's international airport and the US' Ramstein air base could represent a dangerous turn in the radicalisation of youth in Western countries.

German authorities believe the three suspects were among more than a dozen German residents who had journeyed to Pakistan in recent months and were subsequently arrested or placed under surveillance.

Prosecutors said the three arrested men, all in their 20s, trained at camps in Pakistan run by the Islamic Jihad Union, an Uzbek radical group that is a close ally of al-Qaeda ...

If it proves true, that cycle of internet recruitment, training abroad and returning to launch an attack would be a first, according to Roger Cressey, a former US counter-terrorism official. "That would be a very big deal and a very bad development," Mr Cressey said ...

Mr Cressey said the Uzbeks and the Chechen separatists in Russia "are believed to be part of the (al-Qaeda) inner circle these days"