Angels of death jailed for 'holy war bloodbath' plot
Published 05/03/2010 | 05:00
FOUR Muslim radicals who plotted to blow up US military installations, airports and nightclubs in the Frankfurt area of Germany were jailed for between five and 12 years yesterday for planning "a terrible bloodbath involving an incalculable number of deaths".
Sentencing the four in a Dusseldorf courtroom, Judge Ottmar Breidling said: "There has never been an attack on such a scale on German soil."
The men were planning to bring the Islamic holy war to Europe and create explosions that would have been several times more destructive than the London Tube bombs of July 7, 2005, he added.
They had collected about 750kg of hydrogen peroxide, arranged for detonators and had scouted out targets.
Thanks to electronic telephone intercepts supplied by the CIA and a series of blunders by the plotters, police got wind of the gang, kept it under observation and secretly swapped the deadly chemicals for a harmless diluted mixture.
"You considered yourselves angels of death in the name of Islam," said the judge. The group, which had contacts with the Uzbek-based Islamic Jihad Union, was arrested in 2007.
When the trial began the men -- two Muslim converts and two German Turks -- were defiant, refusing to stand for the judge.
They ended up making the most elaborate confessions heard in a terrorist trial since 9/11, detailing how they moved out of small-town German communities, into training camps on the Afghan-Pakistan border.
The leader of the group, Fritz Gelowicz (30); and Daniel Schneider (24), the quartermaster responsible for buying the chemicals, were jailed for 12 years.
In intercepts read out in court Gelowicz was heard to say: "Ramstein sounds fine" -- a reference to a US airbase in Germany -- "but we should have something on top of that, a pub or a disco. If each (device) kills 50, injures a few, then that should be 150 dead."
Gelowicz, Schneider and a third man, Adem Yilmaz (31), attended a training camp in the township of Mir Ali in Afghanistan. Yilmaz, jailed for 11 years, was responsible for financing the operation.
There was no master plan, the judge concluded. Gelowicz simply pledged: "We want to wage the jihad; jihad against the Americans."
The fourth man, Attila Selek (25), was dispatched to buy detonators. Most were later found to be defective. He was jailed for five years.
Schneider was convicted on an additional charge of attempted murder after trying to grab a policeman's gun and use it against him during a raid on their holiday home. (© The Times, London)