|Al-Qaeda in Maghreb 'threatens Germany over hostage'|
|A video purported to be from al-Qaeda's North African affiliate has demanded that Germany free a woman jailed on terror charges in return for a German hostage it says it is holding. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb's video was obtained by a Mauritanian news agency.|
Edgar Fritz Raupach, an engineer, was kidnapped by gunmen near the northern Nigerian city of Kano two months ago.
"We inform you that that your compatriot Edgar Fritz Raupach is a prisoner of the fighters of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb," the video said.
The group said it is seeking the release of Umm Seifullah al-Ansari, or Filiz Gelowicz, a Turkish-born woman jailed a year ago in Germany for aiding terrorism.
Her husband, German national Fritz Gelowicz, a convert to Islam, was among four Islamists imprisoned in March 2010 for plotting to attack US facilities in Germany. At the time, the judge said the men, known as the "Sauerland group", had dreamed of "mounting a second 11 September 2001".
The statement claimed the Filiz Gelowicz was suffering "inhumane treatment" in a German prison.
The group, led by Abdel Moussab Abdelwadoud, has kidnapped Europeans in the past.
|Wife of convicted German jihadi gets prison term|
|A court in Berlin on Wednesday sentenced the wife of the leader of a German terror cell to two and a half years in prison for supporting terrorist organizations.|
The German-Turkish woman was found guilty of collecting up to 2,900 euros ($4,000) for jihadi organizations such as the Islamic Jihad Union, the German Taliban Mujahedeen and al Qaeda between November 2009 and February 2010.
She was convicted of publishing propaganda on the Internet that solicited members for jihadi organizations as well, charges which she admitted to but distanced herself from in the trial.
"It seems to me that it was a different person who wrote the texts," she said, adding that she hated war and violence and had not realized her own radicalization.
German prosecutors had asked for the two-and-a-half year sentence, calling the woman a "fanatical militant" who called "infidels" the enemies of Islam and called for their "annihilation." Her defense attorney wanted a suspended sentence, contending that the woman had sincerely distanced herself from her previous actions.
The defendant's husband, 29-year-old Fritz Gelowicz, recieved 12 years in prison last March by a court in Dusseldorf for planning terrorist attacks against US targets in Germany.
He was taken into custody with two others in September 2007 in the Sauerland region of western Germany. The men were preparing 410 kilograms of explosives to detonate at the Bundestag as it voted on its NATO troops in Afghanistan the following month.
|Wife of German terrorist on trial|
|The wife of a German Islamist who was convicted of plotting an attack on American targets in Germany went on trial herself Friday on terror related charges.|
One male co-defendant, identified only as Alican T., also went on trial in Berlin, suspected of supporting the same terrorist organizations. A second man, Fatih K. is in Turkish custody awaiting extradition.
Prosecutors have said in addition to fundraising that Alican T. posted more than a dozen Islamist videos on the Internet, while Filiz G. posted more than 1,000 videos, comments and texts online. In six contributions, Filiz F. specifically asked Muslims in Germany to join Islamic Jihad Union, the German Taliban Mujahideen and al-Qaida.
Gelowicz's husband Fritz Gelowicz was convicted last March in Duesseldorf of plotting with three other members of the Islamic Jihad Union to attack American soldiers and citizens at various locations including the U.S. Air Force's Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
In another development on Friday, German press, citing anonymous sources, reported that police in Neunkirchen had arrested a man who had been making online bombing threats unless the four were released from prison. Neunkirchen police referred calls to Saarbruecken prosecutors, who had no immediate comment but said there would be a news conference later.
|Four terrorists jailed over Germanys 9/11 plot|
|[Al Arabiya Latest] A German court on Thursday jailed four terror suspects who dreamed of "mounting a second Sept. 11" for a thwarted plot to attack U.S. soldiers and civilians in Germany.|
Sentencing the four -- who included two German Muslims -- to between five and 12 years, judge Ottmar Breidling said that they planned to stage a "monstrous bloodbath" with car bombings in German cities.
In what Breidling called the "biggest terror plot in German post-war history," the four were convicted in a high-security courtroom in the western city of Duesseldorf after a more than 10-month trial.
The two Germans, Fritz Gelowicz and Daniel Schneider, each received 12-year jail terms.
Adem Yilmaz, a Turkish citizen, got 11 years while Atilla Selek, a German of Turkish origin, was given five years in prison for what the court called a "supporting role in the plot."
The judges stopped short of handing down the maximum 15 years because they had confessed. The bearded men sat impassively as the sentences were read out.
"Extraordinarily dangerous plot"
Breidling said the accused, now aged 24 to 31, had schemed to carry out "an extraordinarily dangerous and sweeping attack plot" with visions of "mounting a second Sept. 11."
"If the accused had managed to do what they planned, it would have led to a monstrous bloodbath, primarily among U.S. army personnel and also civilians," he said.
Proposed targets included pubs and nightclubs in several German cities frequented by Americans but also U.S. airbases and diplomatic facilities.
Breidling said there were now in Europe "many impressionable young men and men who have already been led astray, ready to kill for notions of Jihad."
They aimed to kill Americans, but also punish Germany for its military involvement in Afghanistan, he said.
The so-called Sauerland cell, named after the region where three were captured in September 2007, admitted to belonging to a "terrorist organization", plotting murder and conspiring for an explosives attack.
Authorities said they captured the men just in time, as they were planning attacks before Oct. 12, 2007, when parliament was to vote to extend German participation in the NATO force in Afghanistan.
After the biggest criminal surveillance operation in postwar history, police using U.S. and German intelligence caught three of the suspects red-handed, mixing chemicals to make some 410 kilograms (900 pounds) of explosives.
This was 100 times the amount used in the 2005 London bombings that killed more than 50 people, prosecutors said.
The fourth suspect, Selek, was arrested soon after in Turkey.
Almost 3,000 people were killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacksThe cases of Gelowicz and Schneider in particular shocked the country, raising questions how seemingly ordinary Germans could become radicalized by militants preaching and attend terror training camps.
The group said it was acting on behalf of the Jihad Union, a militant group with ties to al-Qaeda that is believed to have set up training camps along the Afghan-Pakistani border.
Chief prosecutor Volker Brinkmann told reporters he was "very satisfied" with the sentences and said authorities had gleaned crucial insights into extremist recruitment and training from the defendants' confessions.
Gelowicz, Schneider and Selek, 25, had each renounced extremism and described their actions as a "mistake".
Three of the defendants said they would not appeal, while Gelowicz said he wanted to "sleep on it" before deciding, according to a defense lawyer.
In addition to the other charges, Schneider was also convicted of attempted murder for grabbing the handgun from a police officer while being captured and firing off a shot. No one was wounded.
Germany, which opposed the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq but has more than 4,000 troops in Afghanistan under NATO command, has beefed up security and surveillance in response to the threat of Islamic militant attacks.
The Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States were planned in part in the German port city of Hamburg by an al-Qaeda cell led by Mohammed Atta, the hijacker of the first plane to strike New York's World Trade Center.
|Man vows to renounce terrorism as trial ends in Germany|
|A German man who admits training in terrorism and buying nearly a tonne of explosives to attack his homeland declared in a speech from the dock on Tuesday that he would never rejoin a group affiliated to Al Qaeda.|
Fritz Gelowicz, 30, said as his trial in Dusseldorf concluded that he was "shocked and surprised" at the arrest three days earlier of his wife, 28, for raising funds for the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU). The court is now recessed and set to hand down a verdict on March 4.
"I want to say I will not participate in terrorist activities in future in any way whatever, and will not be rejoining any terrorist organisation," Gelowicz told the court. "That's my firm decision."
Germany has never suffered a successful attack by homegrown Islamist terrorists, but the trial heard evidence of how this nearly happened in 2007.
A defence lawyer, Dirk Uden, said Gelowicz had repeatedly urged his wife during her visits to him in prison to stay away from Islamist forums on the internet. Gelowicz and three other alleged plotters were arrested in 2007, just months after he married.
Police picked up his wife, who is a German national of Turkish extraction, on Saturday in the southern German city of Ulm. She and Gelowicz, who converted to Islam, married in early 2007.
She is accused of remitting thousands of euros to the IJU, a group based in the lawless Pakistan region of Waziristan. Two other accused, Daniel Schneider, 24, and Atilla Selek, 24, also asked for mercy in their speeches from the dock, saying they had done wrong. A fourth accused, Adem Yilmaz, 31, remained silent.
They have together provided 1,200 pages of evidence about buying 700 kilograms of chemicals to make bombs and about the workings of the IJU. They hope to receive jail terms reduced to about a decade each. The maximum term would otherwise be 15 years.
|Anti-US bomber renounces terror: lawyer|
|[Al Arabiya Latest] A German convert to Islam who has admitted involvement in a thwarted plot to blow up U.S. targets in Germany has now "renounced terror", his lawyer said Tuesday, asking for a lighter sentence.|
In closing arguments at the trial of four Islamists charged with belonging to an extremist group linked to al-Qaeda, Dirk Uden said his client, 30-year-old Fritz Gelowicz, had made a "full confession" and deserved leniency.
"In what more impressive way could one demonstrate that one is finished with armed jihad?" Uden added.
Another lawyer for Gelowicz, Hannes Linke, called for a sentence of less than 10 years, as the confession had given authorities "very valuable information for preventing terror."
"Fritz Gelowicz has given unprecedented insight into the inner workings of Islamic terrorism," Linke said.
After months of surveillance, police using U.S. and German intelligence said they caught three of the suspects red-handed, mixing chemicals to make the equivalent of 410 kilograms (900 pounds) of explosives. This was 100 times the amount used in the 2005 London bombings that killed more than 50 people.
Prosecutors had demanded 12 and a half years behind bars for Gelowicz, a member of the so-called Sauerland cell after the region where they were captured. All four have been charged with belonging to the Islamic Jihadic Union (IJU) in Pakistan.
Uden told the court that the authorities' knowledge of the IJU was "sketchy at best" before Gelowicz's confession.
Prosecutors have called for 13 years for another German convert to Islam, 24-year-old Daniel Schneider and 11 and a half years for Adem Yilmaz, a 31-year-old Turkish citizen.
A fourth plotter, 24-year-old German Atilla Selek who was arrested in Turkey, could face five and a half years' imprisonment for planning what prosecutors said would have been a "massacre".
|Prosecutor: German Islamists planned mass murder|
|The chief prosecutor in the German trial of four alleged militants said on Wednesday that they had planned "mass murder" on a scale unknown in Germany. |
State prosecutor Volker Brinkmann said the members of the so-called Sauerland Group were driven by an overwhelming hatred of US soldiers and by a desire to carry out mass murder, and would not have shied away from killing innocent women and children. The group, consisting of Daniel Schneider, Fritz Gelowicz, Adem Yilmaz and Attila Selek, is accused of planning attacks on US military bases in 2007.
The chief prosecutor emphatically warned against the "cancer of Islamist terrorism," as he set out his case to the Dusseldorf court. He argued that this "cancer" would stop at nothing and chose its victims at random. Brinkmann said the four defendants had shown no real remorse during the nine-month trial, and said they did not confess out of regret.
"The accused wanted to buy themselves a reduced sentence by pleading to the charges. Even the most convinced holy warrior does not want to sit in prison and watch the jihad (holy war) pass by," the prosecutor said.
Brinkmann said the four men, who confessed their allegiance to the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), were blinded by religious fervour and wanted to build explosives of unimaginable strength, many times more powerful than the bombs used in the 2005 attacks on London. "The accused have damaged Islam. They have given new nourishment to the reservations held against the world's second largest religion," the prosecutor continued, adding that few people shared their fundamentalist Wahabi views.
Brinkmann said the trial was unusual in many ways, not least the sheer volume of evidence contained in 530 folders and 2,600 court exhibits. If the 3.6 terabytes of material were printed out, they would dwarf the courthouse.
Public prosecutor Cornelia Zacharias said the IJU had sent the defendants to Germany, because there they could "use less effort to inflict greater damage" on the Americans than in the Afghan-Pakistani combat zone.
Three members of the group were apprehended in 2007 by German special forces after long surveillance, as they were preparing some 730 litres of hydrogen peroxide liquid explosives. The fourth member was later arrested in Turkey.
The prosecution is to argue its case for a second day, when they are to announce their plea for sentencing. A verdict is expected on March 4.
|German terrorists describe hatred of US as motivation|
|The terror suspects on trial for plotting attacks against American targets in Germany claim their actions were driven by hatred against a country they believe is waging war against Islam. The men say their targets were US soldiers -- and they wanted to kill many of them.|
At the time al-Qaida attacked the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington on Sept. 11, 2001, Fritz Gelowicz was still opposed to the act of terror. But a little over a year later, the young man from southern Germany, who converted to Islam at the age of 16, was already determined to "someday take part in the jihad." He says he was motivated by the United States' "unconditional support" for Israel. Gelowicz felt there was "a war by the USA against Islam."
Gelowicz, 29, has been sitting in the dock since June as the main defendant in the so-called "Sauerland Cell" trial against four homegrown German jihadists who are accused of planning a series of bomb attacks in Germany in the fall of 2007. Authorities arrested the men in September 2007 in the town of Medebach-Oberschledorn in the Sauerland region of western German after uncovering the terror plot. At the time, prosecutors claim three of the defendants were trying to convert hydrogen peroxide into explosive material in a rented vacation home. Gelowicz has already hinted that the men were planning to carry out an attack at the start of October, around the time Germany's parliament was set to vote on an extension of the mandate of the military's deployment in Afghanistan.
The four accused -- Gelowicz, Daniel Schneider, Adem Yilmaz and Atilla Selek -- have already confessed. The testimony they gave to officials at the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) in June, July and August fills more than 1,100 pages. On Monday, the men began to testify publicly on the stand in their trial at a higher regional court in Düsseldorf. It's the first time that all the members of a terror cell have revealed their inner workings. Investigators have never before been given such comprehensive information about the creation of a terror plot, training in terror camps in Pakistan's Waziristan region or the obscure Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), the Uzbek terror group on whose behalf Gelowicz and his accomplices were apparently acting. That the suspects have been so open probably has to do with the fact that they have been given the prospect of lighter sentences if they cooperate. Generally, investigators have been astonished by their openness.
The confessions have also shed light on another aspect of the case: the suspects' unconditional hatred of the US. Although they wanted to strike in Europe, their main intended targets were American soldiers. "We didn't want to kill two or three soldiers, but rather many," Gelowicz told the court on Monday.
Gelowicz gave particularly vivid testimony to the BKA about how he quickly got the feeling after 9/11 that the US was waging a war against Islam -- and that this was happening in his own backyard. He told investigators he felt that the war on terror had come within just meters' reach of him in 2004. He described a man who used to sit with his children inside a Muslim prayer room that Gelowicz frequented in his hometown, the Bavarian city of Neu-Ulm, noting that one day the man vanished. Gelowicz later learned from a friend that the man had been kidnapped by the CIA. It turns out that the story was true. The man he spoke of was Khaled el-Masri, a German-Lebanese man who had been kidnapped by the US intelligence service in Macedonia in late December 2003 and taken to Afghanistan. There, he was detained and interrogated for five months before the case was found to be one of mistaken identity.
Adem Yilmaz also told the BKA that it had mainly been the excesses in the US "war against terror" that had pushed him to take the path to militancy. An attack against US soldiers in Germany, he said, would be "targeted retaliation." He added that the actions "would please detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and also at Guantanamo. That was the most important thing to me." The attacks were also intended as a protest against what "these pigs" were doing to innocent people in places like Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Yilmaz called it a "defensive jihad."
Interestingly, the four defendants didn't start out with the intention of committing terrorist attacks. On the contrary, Gelowicz and Yilmaz claimed they initially wanted to go to the front as fighters, preferably in Iraq. However, they were not successful in their attempt to make contact with the appropriate middlemen during a stay in the Syrian capital of Damascus. Then they considered going to Chechnya, where Islamist insurgents are active, but that plan also came to nothing. Finally they came into contact with an IJU member who was able to get them to Waziristan, where they received training near the town of Mir Ali. Even there, so they allegedly told the IJU, they wanted to take part in active fighting. But then the leaders of the terrorist group suggested that they return to Europe in order to carry out terror attacks. Yilmaz and Gelowicz both say, in mutually corroborating testimony, that they were initially reluctant. But then they agreed to the plan.
Gelowicz told the BKA that the IJU's argument that an attack in Europe would be of "more use to the jihad" convinced him. After all, the IJU told him, it was easier to fight US soldiers in Germany than in Pakistan. Finally persuaded by the argument, Gelowicz came to conclusion that one could wreak "great damage" in Germany with a relatively small operation. In Germany, he said, it was even possible to meet US soldiers "in their free time." He stressed that he didn't need to be "brainwashed" in order to accept the mission.
Gelowicz was able to experience at first hand just how difficult it was to fight the US Army in Afghanistan. Before his return to Germany, he spent about four weeks with the IJU on the Pakistani-Afghan border. Several times he crossed over the border to carry out reconnaissance of a US base in Afghanistan, but the IJU fighters were not able to lure the American soldiers out of their stronghold. Gelowicz told the court on Monday that for every successful attack on US soldiers, he estimated there were 10 failed ones -- and even then all that had been achieved was to "destroy one of the Americans' cars."
In the coming weeks, the defendants will undoubtedly have to tell the court in greater detail about the targets they had in mind. So far, it is clear that they were planning to attack nightclubs and bars frequented by US soldiers. They also discussed Ramstein air base as a possible target. In addition, the defendants wanted to send a signal both to the German population and to the Uzbek government, but Gelowicz made it sound as though there was no specific intention to kill German civilians. The alleged terror cell did, however, want to kill US soldiers. They were the main enemy -- regardless whether they were in Afghanistan or in Germany.
|German judge shocked by terror tell-all|
|A German judge voiced surprise on Wednesday that four young Muslims accused of a terrorist bomb plot have suddenly confessed in extraordinary detail. |
Police arrested two German converts to Islam and a third man in 2007 to thwart car bomb attacks on US bases. The accused only decided last month to tell police everything in a plea bargain. "Their evidence is much more comprehensive than we expected at the start of the interrogations," presiding judge Ottmar Breidling told the court as the four accused listened, visibly relaxed.
Observers said the evidence is likely to keenly interest intelligence agencies seeking an insight into how Islamist groups based in Pakistan and Afghanistan mount attacks. Fritz Gelowicz, Daniel Schneider, Adem Yilmaz and Attila Selek were allegedly members of the Islamic Jihad Union, a shadowy group believed to be allied to al-Qaeda.
The compilation of testimony would be finished late this week, and was likely to extend to 1000 pages, which will be read aloud to the court when it resumes hearings on August 10, Breidling said. Breidling promised the men a month ago they would receive a "tangible reduction" in their jail terms as an incentive to confess to police investigators. A federal prosecutor, Volker Brinkmann, confirmed the men had offered exhaustive details of the plot, calling it the most extensive confession he had seen in his career.
Wednesday's courtroom atmosphere was almost harmonious, as defence lawyers withdrew most of a series of objections designed to hold up the trial and prepared for an agreed settlement of the terrorism charges. However Breidling rebuked the accused once for switching into Arabic when they spoke to one another. The accused will no longer have to sit in an armoured-glass cell inside the courtroom when the trial resumes next month, but will be allowed to sit with their lawyers like ordinary criminal defendants.
|Accused cited for contempt at German terror trial|
|Four suspected Islamic militants accused of plotting bombings against US citizens in Germany on the scale of the 9/11 attacks stonewalled Thursday as their trial continued here. The defendants in one of Germany's biggest trials of accused terrorists in decades -- three Germans and a Turkish national -- refused offers to address the court in this western city on the second day of their trial.|
The Turkish suspect, 30-year-old Adem Yilmaz, was ordered into special confinement for a week for contempt of court after he refused to rise when the judges entered the courtroom for the second day in a row. "I only stand for Allah," he had told the presiding judge, Ottmar Breidling, on the opening day of the trial before the Duesseldorf state security tribunal.
"This is provocative behaviour showing disrespect for the court," Breidling said Thursday, as Yilmaz sat behind bulletproof glass with the other defendants, smiling and stroking his beard. "Thank you very much," Yilmaz shouted. "Thank you very much."
The four men face charges of belonging to a terrorist organisation and conspiring to mount a series of devastating bombings in German cities aimed at US citizens. They could face 15 years in prison if convicted. Sites on their target list included the US airbase at Ramstein and civilian airports as well as nightclubs, bars and restaurants frequented by Americans in cities such as Frankfurt, Duesseldorf, Cologne and Stuttgart, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors say the four are hardened members of the Islamic Jihad Union, an extremist group with roots in Uzbekistan and ties to Al-Qaeda which is believed to have set up militant training camps along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The men had planned bombings between early September 2007, when they were captured, and mid-October 2007, when the German parliament was to vote to extend participation in the NATO peacekeeping force in Afghanistan.
After months of surveillance, police using US and German intelligence said they caught three of the suspects red-handed, mixing chemicals to make the equivalent of 410 kilogrammes (900 pounds) of explosives -- 100 times the amount used in the 2005 London bombings that killed more than 50 people.
The fourth suspect, Attila Selek, a 24-year-old German citizen of Turkish origin, was extradited from Turkey last November. Two of the suspects, Fritz Gelowicz and Daniel Schneider, are German converts to Islam. The cases of Gelowicz, 29, and Schneider, 23, have particularly shaken the country, raising questions how seemingly "normal" Germans could convert to a radical brand of Islam and plan attacks on their home soil.
|Muslim converts accused of holy war bomb plots (go to trial)|
|Two Muslim converts and two Turks go on trial in a bomb-proof courtroom in Düsseldorf today accused of plotting to blow up German civilians and US soldiers.|
“The world will burn!” boasted an intercepted e-mail sent between the accused, who are alleged to have wanted to wage an Islamic holy war in the heart of Europe.
Three of the men — Fritz Gelowicz, 29, Daniel Schneider, 23 and the Turkish national Adem Yilmaz, 30 — are accused of attending a training camp on the Afghan-Pakistani frontier run by an Uzbek-based terror organisation known as the Islamic Jihad Union.
Intelligence services say that it has links with al-Qaeda. Using detonators — supplied, the state prosecutor claims, by Attila Selek, 24, a German citizen of Turkish origin — the gang prepared bombs with the explosive force of 410kg (904lb) of TNT, to be set off in and around the US Ramstein air base and other targets. The bombers in London on July 7, 2005, had 4kg of explosive.
It is alleged that the gang wanted the attacks to influence a parliamentary debate extending the mandate of the German Army in Afghanistan in the autumn of 2007.
The men were caught in an elaborate police sting operation in September that year. At the high point of the undercover surveillance, about 600 policemen were involved, fed with information from the German intelligence service and the CIA.
When the alleged plotters rented a remote holiday home and allegedly started to gather material for the bombing campaign the police encircled the region, disguising themselves as villagers, foresters and petrol station attendants.
As soon as the men left the cottage the police would change the vats of hydrogen peroxide for a diluted solution. They were following the example of Scotland Yard detectives, who while secretly monitoring terrorists planning a bomb attack on London five years ago switched a hoard of fertiliser for harmless cat litter.
The cottage was bugged by the undercover squads and transcripts of the conversations will form part of the prosecutor's indictment today.
“Ramstein sounds fine,” says Mr Gelowicz, according to the indictment in one of the eavesdropped cottage conversations. “We should have something on top of that, a pub or a disco. If each [of the devices] kills 50, injures a few, then that should be 150 dead.”
At the time of the arrests Germans hunt 49 in ‘Fritz the Taliban’ terror plot. Looks like the Germans were not successful.
|'Sauerland cell' terror trial to begin in Germany|
|Germany will launch one of its biggest terror trials in decades on Wednesday against four alleged Islamic extremists accused of plotting devastating attacks against US interests.|
The so-called Sauerland cell was named for a region east where authorities captured the suspects in September 2007 along with 26 detonators and 12 drums of hydrogen peroxide, the substance used in the deadly attacks on London's transport system two years before. A fourth suspect was extradited from Turkey to Germany in November. Their aim, authorities say, was a deadly bombing "of unimaginable size", according to chief federal prosecutor Monika Harms, that would also punish Germany for its military presence in Afghanistan.
Prosecutors say the four are hardened members of the Islamic Jihad Union, a militant Islamic extremist group with roots in Uzbekistan and ties to al-Qaeda which is believed to have set up training camps for militants along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The suspects are accused of planning to car bomb targets including US institutions in Germany and nightclubs popular with Americans.
Two of the men, Fritz Gelowicz and Daniel Schneider, are German converts to Islam, a third is a German citizen of Turkish origin, Attila Selek, and the fourth a Turkish national, Adem Yilmaz. The cases of Gelowicz and Schneider have particularly shaken the country, raising questions how seemingly "normal" Germans could covert to Islam, become radicalised by extremist preaching and then attend terror training camps.
Their trial will take place in a high-security courtroom of the superior regional tribunal in the western city of Duesseldorf on charges of belonging to a terrorist organisation, plotting murder and conspiring for an explosives attack. Schneider also faces an attempted murder charge for allegedly grabbing the handgun from a police officer when being arrested and firing off a shot. No one was wounded. Hundreds of officers had been tracking the group's movements around the clock for months when elite commandos swooped on the suspects, holed up with the explosive chemicals and paraphernalia in a holiday cabin.
The prosecution has built its case around wiretapped conversations in which the cell discussed its plans. In one, a suspect asks the amount of hydrogen peroxide solution required to kill an American: "How many grams do you need do blow him to bits?", according to media accounts. A man believed to be Schneider responds: "If you pack it in steel, 20 grams, 30 grams. Then he's dead."
Police say they caught Gelowicz, now 29, Schneider, 23, and 30-year-old Yilmaz red-handed concocting explosives. Selek, 24, is believed to have obtained the detonators. They also said they captured the men just in the nick of time, as they were planning attacks before October 12, 2007, the date parliament was to vote to extend German participation in the Nato peacekeeping force in Afghanistan.
German media have called it the biggest terror trial since the urban guerrillas of the Red Army Faction faced court in the 1970s. It could last two years or longer and the defendants each face up to 15 years in prison.
Germany Prepares for Homegrown Terror Trial