Saturday 20 January 2018

Dortmund police hold Isil suspect but 'no evidence' he bombed bus

Police at Borussia Dortmund’s stadium before Wednesday evening’s rearranged match. Photo: AP
Police at Borussia Dortmund’s stadium before Wednesday evening’s rearranged match. Photo: AP

Justin Huggler in Berlin

AN IRAQI man held by German police following the bomb attack on the Borussia Dortmund football team's bus is alleged to have led an Isil unit before travelling to Europe.

The 26-year-old man, identified only as Abdel Beset al-O, is said to have commanded 10 militants involved in kidnapping, extortion and killing.

However, federal prosecutors admitted yesterday that they have no evidence the arrested man took part in the bomb attack, and it remains unclear who was responsible.

They said that they are going to indict him with commanding an Isil unit in Iraq from 2014, but not the bombing. German prosecutors often charge terror suspects with lesser offences so they can be held while police pursue investigations.

Abdel Beset al-O, who came to Germany in 2016 via Turkey, is believed to have been under covert surveillance as a suspected jihadist for some time.

He was initially held over an intercepted telephone conversation a few days before the attack, in which an unidentified caller told him: "The blast is ready", according to an unconfirmed report in 'Spiegel' magazine.

A second man who was briefly held has been released without charge. According to local media reports, the 28-year-old German Muslim was sleeping with his child when police raided his home, and was only suspected because he had an umbrella from the Borussia Dortmund team hotel.

At the same time, police are also investigating whether the attackers were from Germany's far-left or far-right movements.

Experts have cast doubt on the authenticity of a letter found close to the site of the attack which claimed responsibility in Isil's name.

"Much of it simply doesn't fit with Isil," Prof Peter Neumann of King's College, London, told 'Bild' newspaper, saying the language was not typical of the terror outfit. The letter demands Germany withdraw aircraft providing reconnaissance for international air strikes against Isil and close Rammstein, an airbase used by the US.

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