Turkish police have arrested a Lebanese-born man wanted in Germany for alleged links to a terrorist group that was planning attacks on US targets, officials said Thursday.
The man was arrested in the western city of Izmir at the end of August and questioned by terrorism police, but was released by a court without charges this week because he had not committed a crime in Turkey, the state-run Anatolia news agency said. He was now being held in police custody awaiting possible extradition procedures to Germany, the agency said.
Marcus Koehler, a spokesman for federal German prosecutors, said the suspect Houssain Al Malla was being held at Germany's request. Al Malla is suspected of undergoing terrorist training in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area in 2007 with the Islamic Jihad Union organization, Koehler said. He's been sought since 2008 on suspicion of connections with a group that plotted to blow up American targets in Germany that was foiled in 2007. The principals in the main group were convicted last year.
Fritz Gelowicz and Daniel Schneider, 24, both German converts to Islam, were convicted of membership in a terrorist organization along with Turkish citizen Adem Yılmaz. Attila Selek, another Turkish citizen, was convicted of the lesser charge of supporting a terrorist organization.
All four also were convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and preparing an explosive device with the power equivalent to 410 kilograms of TNT.
The defendants' goal was to attack at least 150 Americans - at pubs, discos and other public places - ahead of an Oct. 2007 German parliamentary vote on extending the country's military deployment in Afghanistan in an effort to influence that decision, the court found.
But German authorities - acting partly on US intelligence - had been watching them and covertly replaced the highly concentrated hydrogen peroxide they were going to use to produce the explosives with a diluted substitute that could not have been used to produce a bomb.
German authorities arrested Gelowicz, Schneider and Yilmaz at a rented cottage in central Germany on Sept. 4, 2007. Turkey picked up Selek in November 2007 and later extradited him to Germany.
Turkey's Vatan newspaper said Al Malla was arrested after a raid at the home of relatives in Izmir, where he had arrived a month ago. It said he was carrying a fake passport and ID.