The German Interior Ministry today said the Islamic Jihad Union militant group has taken responsibility for planning foiled terror bombings in Germany, adding that the US air base at Ramstein was a target as well as US and Uzbek consulates in Germany.
The ministry, which is responsible for police and internal security, said in a statement that the IJU made the announcement on the internet and that government computer experts viewed it as genuine.
Three men were arrested today on suspicion of planning massive bombings against US and other facilities in Germany.
“In an internet appearance, the Islamic Jihad Union has taken responsibility for the foiled attacks in Germany and addresses the arrests of September 4, 2007,” the ministry statement said.
“The attacks planned according to this for the end of 2007 were directed against the US air base at Ramstein as well as US and Uzbek consular facilities in Germany.”
The attacks were aimed at pressing Germany to close its air base in Termez, Uzbekistan, the statement said.
The Islamic Jihad Union is described by police and prosecutors as an offshoot of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, a militant group which had origins in that Central Asian country.
The IJU has been designated a terrorist organisation by the US State Department; German prosecutors have said it is characterised by a “profound hatred of US citizens.”
According to the State Department, the group was responsible for co-ordinated bombings directed at the US and Israeli embassies in July 2004 in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent. Members have been schooled in explosives by al Qaida instructors and the group has ties to Osama bin Laden and fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Omar.
Last week, German anti-terrorist forces swept down on a rented cottage in Oberschledorn in central Germany and arrested Fritz Martin Gelowicz, 28, described as the leader of an Islamic Jihad Union terror cell, and Daniel Martin Schneider, 22, both of them German converts to Islam.
The third suspect has been identified as Adem Yilmaz, 29, born in Turkey but also living in Germany.
All three had trained in terrorist camps in Pakistan, prosecutors said, and the case has raised concerns in Germany about homegrown extremists linking up with foreign terror groups.
Gelowicz came from Ulm, a town on the Danube River in southern German that, along with neighbouring Neu-Ulm, has been targeted by police as a centre of radical activity.
Prosecutors said the three had obtained more than 1,600 pounds of 35% hydrogen peroxide solution, enough to make explosives with the equivalent power of 1,200 pounds of TNT, as well as military style detonators.
Bombs made from hydrogen peroxide killed 52 commuters in London in 2005.
The German Interior Ministry statement said that the arrests had prevented the danger in the current case but that “the statement of responsibility underscores ... the continuing danger from Islamic terrorism.”