Germany: Sauerland cell busted, terrorists jailed

From The Telegraph U.K.

German Islamist fanatics jailed for planning ‘second September 11’

Four Muslim fanatics who planned “bloodbaths” at US targets in Germany in an attempt to create a “second September 11” have been jailed.

Allan Hall, in Berlin
Published: 11:45AM GMT 04 Mar 2010
Daniel Schneider, Fritz Gelowicz, Adem Yilmaz and Atilla Selek:  German Islamic fanatics jailed for planning 'second September 11'

(clockwise from top left) Daniel Schneider, Fritz Gelowicz, Adem Yilmaz and Atilla Selek Photo: AP

Fritz Gelowicz, the ring leader, got 12 years, his German sidekick Daniel Schneider – both converts to Islam – 11 years while two accomplices were sentenced to five years each for their roles in a plot to detonate explosives 100 times more powerful than those used in the London Underground bombings of July 2005.

The four men, known as the “Sauerland Cell” after the tourist region where they stockpiled massive amounts of chemicals for the bombs, were jailed at the end of a nine-month trial.

In a rare move, prosecutors allowed them to plea-bargain their guilt in return for what the defendants hoped would be far shorter sentences.

In closing speeches top prosecutor Volker Brinkmann said the gang “had planned a mass murder unrivalled in Germany. They acted out of blind hatred for American soldiers,” he said.

“It is terrible to think they enjoyed the concept of terror attacks that would have killed at least 150 soldiers as well as women and children.

“They appointed themselves masters over life and death.”

Gelowicz, Schneider and Adem Yilmaz, who is a Turkish national, were captured in the Sauerland region in 2007 after stockpiling vast quantities of hydrogen peroxide, suitable for making car bombs and other explosives.

Attila Selek, a Turkish German, was later arrested in Turkey where he was to acquire the detonators for the bombs. He was extradited to Germany in 2008.

The group was under the surveillance of intelligence agents while their plot crystallised. Whenever they left their hideout, agents swapped the chemicals for water, rendering their plans useless.

All have given detailed accounts of their terrorist training at a camp in Pakistan’s “bandit country” of Waziristan together with details of the US bases that they planned to blitz with their home-made devices for the Islamic Jihadist Union.

The terror attacks were to take place in October 2007, when parliament was to vote to extend German participation in the NATO force in Afghanistan.

“The confessions of the accused were the most comprehensive talks concerning terrorism ever heard in a German court of law,” said Rolf Tophoven, director of the institute of terrorism research and security policy in Essen.

“They gave an exact description of what was going on in the terror training camps in Pakistan.”

Schneider also admitted to trying to kill a policeman who he shot at when they moved in to break up their cell in September 2007.

The US Air Force base at Ramstein as well as discos, restaurants and nightclubs in the area used by service personnel were written down as potential targets for a series of bombings.

In what has been called the biggest surveillance operation in German post-war history, police found the three suspects as they were preparing some 730 litres of what they thought was hydrogen peroxide liquid. “This would have resulted in about 410 kilograms of explosives – 100 times the amount used in the 2005 London bombings,” prosecutors said.

German authorities have collected valuable insight into the workings of the IJU, which has ties to Al-Qaeda. “We now know how recruitment works, how people are smuggled into the Afghan-Pakistani border region and how the training takes place,” said federal prosecutor Rainer Griesbaum.

In the meantime, Gelowicz, Schneider and Selek have dissociated themselves from terrorism. In their final appeals to the court, they called their actions a “mistake.” Yilmaz also confessed but declined to address the judges during the final hearing.

“I could have and should have acted differently,” the 24-year-old Schneider said, adding that he hoped to complete a university degree behind bars. He said that he would accept the responsibility for his actions and accept his punishment All said they turned to terror in disgust at the wars in Iraq and Afganistan. Germany’s intelligence agencies believe that, with 4,500 troops currently in Afghanisan, the risk of a terror attack in the country remains high.

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