Germany arrests suspected ISIS fighter amid investigation into wider group

Fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Reuters / Stringer)
Authorities in Lower Saxony have confirmed the arrest of a suspected jihadist militant. According to reports, the suspect could be part of a wider cell of Islamic State sympathizers allegedly planning attacks in Germany.

Federal prosecutors in Germany have confirmed that the State Criminal Investigation Department has arrested a suspect in the city of Wolfsburg. However, they denied a threat of “serious subversive violence” in Germany.

The arrested suspect, named as a 26-year-old German-Tunisian Ayoub B, has undergone “combat training for the militant jihad” and “recruited more fighters for the association” during a nearly three-month stay in Syria between late May and mid-August 2014, the prosecutors announced, according to Welt.

He is allegedly one of the seven members of a 50-member cell which traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight with the Islamic State, Bild reported earlier.

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The President of the Office of Criminal Investigation (LKA), Uwe Kolmey, confirmed the investigation into the suspect's extremist activities is ongoing, but said there is no evidence that the suspect had planned attacks in Germany.

In total, there are 12 ongoing investigations into the Islamist “group” in Baden-Wuerttemberg state, Kolmey added, emphasizing that it is not a “terror cell,” according to NDR.

Meanwhile, LKA officials reportedly searched several homes of Islamists in Pforzheim, a town of nearly 120,000 inhabitants in Baden-Württemberg, southwest Germany, on Thursday morning.

The head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Maren Brandenburger, pointed out that their authority has "no concrete evidence” of threats to Germany. "So we now have no real fear," she said. The activities of Salafists in Wolfsburg are well known and are observed by the intelligence community, Brandenburger told German N-TV.

A spokesman for the Lower Saxony branch of BfV told the station that authorities are currently aware of some 40 people from Lower Saxony that "have left the country in the direction of Syria" to become involved with ISIS.

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Meanwhile, Wolfsburg Mayor Klaus Mohr has warned the public against panic. Although there are some known IS sympathizers in the city, he emphasized that most of the Muslim community is strongly opposed to any extremism.

"The overwhelming large number of Muslim citizens also thinks and acts completely differently [than IS sympathizers]," Mohr said, according to Welt.

Overall, German officials believe around 550 nationals have traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside Islamic State, raising fears of possible attacks on home soil when they return.