German Islamic fanatics jailed for planning 'second September 11'
Quote:The gang, two of whom were German-born but converted to Islam, plotted to detonate explosives 100 times more powerful than those used in the attacks on the London Underground in July 2005, in a "monstrous bloodbath", a court heard.
Had the plot not been foiled the gang, a cell of a terrorist group linked to al-Qaeda, would have killed 150 soldiers, along with women and children in a "mass murder unrivalled in Germany."
On Thursday, at the end of a nine-month trial, the ringleader, Fritz Gelowicz, 30, the son of a doctor and engineer, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for the plot. His sidekick Daniel Schneider, 24, was also given an 12-year sentence. Adem Yilmaz, 31, a Turkish national, was sentenced to 11 years and Attila Selek, 25, a Turkish German, was sentenced to five years.
Judge Ottmar Breidling said the case: "has shown with frightening clarity what acts young people who are filled with hatred, blinded and seduced by wrong-headed ideas of jihad are prepared and able to carry out."
"Never before had there been a terror attack of that dimension in Germany," he said. "You were blinded by a strange, hate-filled notion of jihad and you turned yourselves into angels of death in the name of Islam."
The gang, known as the "Sauerland Cell" after the tourist region where they stockpiled massive amounts of chemicals for the bombs, had planned to carry out the attacks at the US Air Force base at Ramstein and in restaurants and nightclubs in the area, in October 2007. It was to coincide with a vote in parliament to extend German participation in the Nato force in Afghanistan.
Gelowicz, who came from a family which "seemed to be the epitome of middle-class harmony"; Schneider and Yilmaz were captured in the Sauerland region in 2007 after storing 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 being watched by intelligence agents at a holiday cottage the men had rented as part of 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.
However, when the gang 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 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.
Gelowicz, who once used to play American football and aspire to an American lifestyle, Schneider and Selek have now 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," 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 Afghanistan.
Germany's intelligence agencies believe that, with 4,500 troops currently in Afghanistan, the risk of a terror attack in the country remains high.
The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall. - Che Guevara
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