Is this what Angela Merkel had in mind when she said Germany could manage an influx of over a million refugees? From the NY Times:
The police in Germany arrested six Syrian migrants on Tuesday, suspected of plotting an attack and having links to the Islamic State, fanning fears that extremists posing as refugees were targeting Europe…
On Tuesday, Christian Hartwig, a spokesman for the Frankfurt prosecutor’s office, said that 500 police officers had stormed eight apartments in the German cities of Essen, Hanover, Kassel and Leipzig in early morning raids, and arrested the suspects. The men, ages 20 to 28, had been posing as refugees, Mr. Hartwig said.
He said the men were suspected of acting on behalf of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, and were planning an attack using weapons or explosives. They had arrived in Germany between December 2014 and September 2015, he added, a period when millions of refugees were heading to Europe. All six had applied for asylum, though Mr. Hartwig did not say if they had been granted that status.
Deutsche Welle has a bit more detail on the plot:
The men are suspected of “planning an attack with weapons or explosives on a public target in Germany,” according to prosecutors. Authorities said that the men had not yet finished preparing their attack, but did not provide further details.
The suspects planned to carry out the attack at a Christmas market in the western city of Essen, sources close to the investigation told local public broadcaster Hessische Rundfunk. Police have not yet confirmed the report.
This sounds like a sequel to the attack that took place last Christmas in Berlin. That’s when Tunisian refugee Anis Amri drove a truck through an outdoor Christmas market killing 12 people and injuring dozens more. Amri had pledged allegiance to ISIS before the attack.
This raid comes at the worst possible time for Merkel. As Jazz pointed out Monday, negotiations to form a new coalition government in Germany just collapsed. Merkel had been trying to form a government that included a right-wing party and the green party in addition to two other parties. And underlying Merkel’s inability to form the new coalition was disagreement on immigration. From Politico Europe earlier this month:
Germany’s future course on refugees quickly emerged as one of the most contentious in ongoing exploratory coalition talks between Merkel’s conservatives, the liberal Free Democrats and the Greens. Last week, a top conservative negotiatoreven accused the Greens, who advocate less stringent asylum and refugee policies, of trying “to provoke the collapse” of the talks over the issue.
While there’s no shortage of policy disagreements between the three parties, from defense spending to agricultural policy, the differences between the Greens and the two center-right parties on migration may be unbridgeable.
Now that coalition building has failed, Merkel seems to have little choice but to call for new elections. Expect the arrest of these six Syrian refugees to be a major topic as voters get a second chance at a new government.