Two alleged Islamists were arrested by German police on Tuesday because Federal intelligence agents say they had set a time and place for a terrorist attack to “kill as many as possible”.
A 15-year-old Afghan-German dual national and a 16-year-old Russian citizen Chechen were arrested on Tuesday in North Rhine-Westphalia and Brandenburg over an alleged plot to attack a Christmas market with either an incendiary device or a truck. Germany’s Die Welt cites intelligence service sources who claim the pair had discussed their plans and had agreed on a particular Christmas Market and a date in early December to launch the attack.
Tagesspiegel claims to have exclusively learnt that the target was the Cologne Christmas Market, close to where one of the two was arrested. The teenagers are reported to have been Islamic State sympathisers who shared their plans on Telegram and spoke of their desire to kill “as many as people”. As well as the “concrete” Christmas Market plan, they also discussed the possibility of striking a Synagogue, it was said.
Chechens have become an increasingly prominent part of the European terror scene recently, particularly in France which has the largest population of Chechen ‘refugees’ in Europe. School teacher Samuel Paty, who showed an image of the Islamic prophet Muhammad during a class on freedom of expression, was beheaded by a Chechen teen in 2020. This year, another Chechen migrant stabbed a teacher to death at a French school, with injuries to the educator’s neck and throat.
The arrested Chechen teen in Germany this week was described in reports as an “extremely violent” individual with an interest in weapons and terrorist organisations.
If the market intended to be targeted was the central Cologne Market, then it takes place in a square just yards from where the infamous Cologne New Year’s Eve mass sex attacks took place in 2014-15. A terror attack on a Christmas Market is an especially sensitive subject in Germany, which saw one of its most deadly terror attacks ever take place at the Berlin Christmas Market in 2016.
Islamic State-linked Anis Amri, a Tunisian migrant who entered Europe on a migrant boat to escape a prison sentence for stealing a truck stole another truck in Germany, shooting its driver dead. He then used the stolen vehicle to plough through the city’s Christmas market, killing 13 people. The death toll may well have been higher, but the vehicle was stopped by its automatic brake.