A nationwide manhunt for a suspected terrorist in Germany came to an end after three heroic refugees lured the fugitive in their apartment, tied him up and handed him over to the authorities.
Jaber al-Bakr, a 22-year-old Syrian migrant, fled his apartment in Chemnitz, near the Czech border, after the Special Forces stormed it and found a cache of explosives and other bomb-making material similar to the ones used in the Brussels and Paris attacks.
The suspect managed to escape to the city of Leipzig, where he approached another Syrian at a train station to ask for shelter. The man, whose name has not been released yet, recognized al-Bakr from the wanted poster and took him back to his apartment. Then with the help of two other refugees, he tied al-Bakr up, snapped his photograph and then took it to a local police station.
Authorities believe al-Bakr might have links to terrorist group Islamic State, also known as ISIL. He arrived in Germany in late 2015 and registered as a refugee in Munich in February. He was granted a permit in June to stay for three years.
News media reports that authorities received the tip about the terror plot after foreign intelligence agencies picked up online communication between the suspect and others discussing how to make bombs.
Al-Bakr has been charged with helping prepare to a major act of violence.
"The actions of the suspect point towards an IS connection,” Saxony criminal police chief Joerg Michaelis said Monday. "We're all relieved that he's been caught now."
Meanwhile Chancellor Angela Merkel, who came under attack for her open-door policy refugee policy after several terrorism incidents, thanked the three anonymous Syrian men for helping the authorities.
"We recognize and are grateful to the man from Syria who informed the police of his whereabouts and helped police arrest him," said Merkel’s spokeswoman, Ulrike Demmer.
With anti-migrant sentiments on the rise in Europe, this incident is just another example that not all refugees should be demonized for the actions of a few. If it weren’t for the brave man who lured al-Bakr to his house and his fellow companions, who knows how long the manhunt would have continued.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Fabian Bimmer