- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 7, 2002

STUTTGART, Germany — A Turkish man suspected of being a follower of Osama bin Laden and the man's fiancee, an employee of the U.S. military, were arrested on suspicion of planning an attack on a U.S. military base on the anniversary of the September 11 suicide hijackings, German authorities announced yesterday.
The couple was said to have had 287 pounds of chemicals and five pipe bombs at the time of their arrest Thursday in an apartment near Heidelberg, where the U.S. Army in Europe has headquarters.
The 25-year-old Turkish man had a picture of Osama bin Laden at his apartment, in addition to Islamic literature and a book about building bombs, said Thomas Schauble, the chief law enforcement officer for Baden-Wuerttemberg state. There were indications that an attack was planned for September 11, but he would not elaborate."We suspect that they intended to mount a bomb attack against military installations and the city of Heidelberg," Mr. Schauble said, adding that the man was a strict Muslim "who hates Americans and Jews."
His 23-year-old fiancee worked at a supermarket at a U.S. installation in Heidelberg. The man worked at a chemical warehouse in nearby Karlsruhe. They were arrested in their apartment in Walldorf, about 6 miles south of Heidelberg.
U.S. law enforcement officials in Washington said the woman had dual American and German citizenship.
"Now we must examine whether he was acting alone or whether there were structures behind this," Mr. Schauble said, adding that the man was being questioned but was not cooperating.U.S. Army Europe spokesman Sandy Goss said he had no details about a target."All I know is there were two people arrested, and we're monitoring the situation closely because we take all these reports seriously," the spokesman said.
There were no signs of heightened alert at the U.S. facility yesterday evening. Joggers ran past the fenced-in headquarters, and children played outside at military housing across the street.If such a plot was indeed under way, it would represent the largest planned terrorist attack to become public since September 11. Hundreds of Army personnel and their families live on the base.
German federal criminal authorities refused to comment, saying the case was being handled by state investigators.
Earlier this week, federal Interior Minister Otto Schily said German authorities had no information on any plans for attacks in the country around the anniversary of the September 11 attacks.In a separate incident, federal prosecutors said yesterday they are investigating whether a 39-year-old Afghan-born man who lived in Hamburg and holds a German passport had terror links. The man was arrested in New York by U.S. authorities after he traveled to the United States in mid-July, and he is in custody in Alexandria.
German federal investigators started their investigation on Aug. 20, a spokesman for federal prosecutors, Hartmut Schneider, said. He refused to give further details.
Three of the hijackers involved in the September 11 attacks belonged to a Hamburg terror cell.In Sweden yesterday, an appeals court ruled that a man suspected of planning to hijack a London-bound airliner must remain in custody.
Kerim Chatty, 29, had appealed a district court's decision earlier this week keeping him in jail while prosecutors prepare formal charges of planning to hijack a plane and illegal possession of a weapon.
Prosecutor Thomas Haeggstroem faces a Sept. 16 deadline to file formal charges, but he said he may seek an extension.
Mr. Chatty was arrested on Aug. 29 at Vaesteraas airport in central Sweden after security officials found a gun in his carry-on luggage. He was preparing to board a Ryanair flight on his way to an Islamic conference in Birmingham, England.
Mr. Chatty admitted he had the gun but denied planning to hijack the plane.
The plane took off several hours late without Mr. Chatty and several other Muslims initially thought to be traveling with him. The others were released after questioning.
His 32-year-old brother, who asked not to be identified, said the weapon was an old gun from Mr. Chatty's criminal past and that he probably found it after he rented out his apartment three weeks ago. Mr. Chatty had been convicted previously of theft and assault charges, including a clash with a group of U.S. Marines in a Swedish gym.
Mr. Chatty also attended flight schools in the United States in the 1990s but did not complete the course and was not licensed.
"He is not 100 percent innocent because he had a gun, but he is not going to hijack a plane with 20 of his own religion and with children and women," the brother said. "The police [EnLeader] are going to show that this is all a big misunderstanding."
The brother described Mr. Chatty as an open-minded pacifist who converted to Islam. He said Mr. Chatty was critical of the September 11 attacks and felt that bin Laden had "made people think bad about Islam."
Kim Gamel reported from Stockholm.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide