A German army officer has been arrested for posing as a Syrian refugee and allegedly planning a terrorist attack.
The unnamed lieutenant, 28, was arrested on suspicion of committing a “serious act of violence with xenophobic motives,” fraud and weapons violations. The authorities also believe he would have attempted to place blame for any attack on Syrian refugees.
More than 90 German police officers worked alongside Austria and France’s security forces to search 60 locations across the three countries on Wednesday, after a 24-year-old suspected accomplice was arrested in Bavaria.
Investigators believe the Bundeswehr lieutenant was posted at Illkirch-Graffenstaden in France before he registered himself as a refugee. He gave false information to authorities in Giessen, Hesse, on Dec. 30, 2015, as Germany was inundated with the arrival of almost a million asylum seekers.
What’s strange is that authorities awarded him asylum in Bavaria despite his total inability to speak Arabic and his German background.
“As a result, he was given shelter in a refugee home and has received monthly financial benefits under this false identity,” the Frankfurt prosecutor’s office said.
“These findings, as well as other evidence, point towards a xenophobic motive for the soldier’s suspected plan to commit an attack using a weapon deposited at Vienna airport.”
If the suspect’s plan had succeeded, his registered fingerprints in the refugee database would have led police into believing his false identity — that of a Syrian migrant — and it would have resulted in further scrutiny on refugees in Germany.
The man was detained at Vienna airport as he allegedly tried to smuggle an illegal 7.65mm pistol out of the toilets. His accomplice was also arrested in Hammelburg for his alleged involvement in the plot.
Police have also raided the two suspects’ homes as well as their workplaces and acquaintances’ houses and seized mobile phones, laptops and various documents. They also found illegal weapons in the accomplice’s house.
Both the suspected terrorists are now held in Frankfurt.
The huge influx of migrants in Germany has strained the refugee registration system and left it particularly vulnerable to exploitation. The suspect has made use of the weakness and has been drawing the monthly funds given to aid refugees by the government since January 2016.
This isn’t the first incident in Germany where an extremist has attempted a terror attack in order to spread hatred of refugees.
Last week, German police arrested a man believed to be behind the bombing incident on the Borussia Dortmund football team. The man planned the bombing to bid on the club’s shares if their prices plummeted after the attack. To dupe the police, he also fabricated letters saying the attack had been carried out “in the name of Allah.” However, several discrepancies in the letters made the police suspicious of his real identity and his plot was foiled.