Alleged Islamic State jihadists start trial for ‘terror plot’ in Germany

Three Syrian nationals start trial for plotting coordinated suicide bombings and shootings in Duesseldorf old town center in 2015.

Three alleged Syrian jihadists went on trial in Germany Wednesday accused of plotting coordinated suicide bombings and shootings in the western city of Duesseldorf.

The three defendants, identified as per German practice only as Saleh A. and Mahood B., both 25, and 27-year-old Hamza C., were in the dock accused of belonging to the Islamic State group and planning the attacks in the Duesseldorf old town center in 2015.

The accused “are believed to have plotted to have two suicide bombers set off explosive vests and then open fire on passers-by with automatic rifles,” the Duesseldorf court said in a statement.

The case came to light when Saleh A. went to a police station in Paris in February last year and told officers that he had “a certain amount of information about a sleeper cell that was ready to strike in Germany.”

He had been registered as an asylum seeker in the Duesseldorf region in 2013 and Germany requested extradition from France after he turned himself in.

German authorities believe Saleh A. and Hamza C. joined IS in early 2014 in Syria. They crossed from Syria to Turkey in May 2014. From there they traveled separately in March and July in 2015 via Greece to Germany.

Prosecutors said the pair planned to finance the attack by selling a video to the Vatican with proof of life of a priest kidnapped by IS in Syria.

Germany since 2015 saw an influx of more than one million migrants and refugees who mostly traveled overland, the majority via Turkey, Greece and Balkans countries, to seek asylum in Europe’s biggest economy. It has endured a string of attacks claimed by IS including a rampage by a Tunisian asylum seeker who slammed a truck into a crowd of people last December at a packed Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people.

The Duesseldorf trial is scheduled to last at least until December.

Source: /TOI