German police on Tuesday conducted numerous raids across five federal states and stormed an accommodation facility for refugees and 12 homes around the country that were believed to house people suspected of financing terrorism. Police searched residences in the eastern states of Thuringia and Saxony as well as in Bavaria, the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia and in Hamburg, police in Thuringia said in a statement.
Bild magazine cited “an imminent terror threat” as a trigger for the operation. The large-scale operation reportedly targeted “Islamist-linked terror suspects,” local broadcaster MDR reported.
The police have been investigating a 28-year-old Russian citizen of Chechen origin since the second half of 2015 who was suspected of preparing "a serious act of violent subversion", the statement said. They believed he intended to fight for Islamic State in Syria. During the course of investigations, suspicion arose that that person as well as 10 other men and three women - all Russian citizens of Chechen origin - were financing terrorism.
According to Reuters, the suspects were living in Thuringia, Hamburg and Dortmund, are asylum seekers with unclear residency status, and are aged between 21 and 31, police said.
Police forces deployed sniffer dogs to detect potential explosives. At least one suspect is reported to have been placed under arrest in the central Thuringia city of Suhl, where “white powder” of unknown origin was found reported RT.
Later, Thuringia criminal police said there is no threat of a terror attack, adding that preliminary outcomes of the operation would be released "in a matter of days." Unlike neighboring France and Belgium, Germany had seen no large-scale terrorist attacks until the summer of this year.
In late July, however, it suffered a suicide bombing attempt and three lone-wolf assaults in the space of a week. In all cases, the perpetrators either had direct links to IS or were inspired by radicalism. The suspect, identified as Jaber al-Bakr, was on the run after German police discovered “highly sensitive explosives” in his flat. Al-Bakr committed suicide while in custody. The authorities said later he had considered a “big airport in Berlin” as a “better target" than trains.
One of the most recent terrorist plots was foiled in early October in the eastern city of Chemnitz, when a 22-year-old Syrian national was captured after a two-day manhunt. Although a special operation had been launched by the authorities, the man was only detained when three fellow Syrians tied him up and alerted police.
Earlier this month a Syrian refugee who was arrested on suspicion of planning a major attack in Berlin was found dead in prison after he initially evaded police during a raid on his apartment where 1.5 kg of explosives were found. Authorities said he had committed suicide.