Germany: Teenage Syrian Asylum Seeker Arrested on Suspicion of Plotting Synagogue Attack

Authorities in Germany have arrested a teenage Syrian asylum seeker for allegedly planning an “Islamist-motivated” attack on a synagogue in the city of Hagen.

The 16-year-old, along with his father and two brothers, were arrested at their residence in Hagen, not far from Dortmund, North Rhine-Westphalia, on Thursday during Yom Kippur – the holiest day of the year in Judaism – after authorities deemed that the teenager had planned to attack the synagogue, Deutsche Welle reports.

While the teenager’s father – who arrived in Germany in 2014, and was subsequently granted asylum – and two brothers were all released following their arrests, the 16-year-old remains in police custody and stands accused of preparing a terrorist attack.

Following the search of the Syrian teen’s home, authorities indicated that no bomb-making components were discovered, but that cell phones, hard drives, and computers had been secured and were in the process of being examined.

North Rhine-Westphalia Interior Minister Herbert Reul noted that authorities had received a very serious and specific tip that mentioned the nature of the crime that had been planned, where it was to take place, and who was to going to carry it out. The tip is said to have come from a foreign intelligence service. 

The operation, which began on Wednesday afternoon just ahead of the Jewish holiday, saw heavily armed police officers cordon off access to the synagogue, which sits in the middle of the city. The building and the surrounding area were both searched, bomb-sniffing dogs were deployed, but no dangerous objects were found. 

Armin Laschet, the Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia and the CDU’s candidate for Chancellor in Germany’s upcoming federal elections, told the national press that it was now time “to uncover” just how serious this attempted attack was.

“The immediate danger has been averted – and we will do everything we can to clarify which networks may have been behind it,” he added.