Monday, November 20, 2006

German Police Break Up ... What? Another Bogus Terror Plot?

According to the BCC, German officials say they have broken up a plot to blow up a passenger plane. But nobody has been charged, five of the six "suspects" have been released, and the other is being held on an unrelated matter. Hmmm.
German police questioned six suspects on Friday over the alleged plot, but five were released on Saturday, the federal prosecutor's office said.
One of those arrested on Friday remains in custody in connection with another investigation, the officials said.

Nine apartments were searched on Friday in Rhineland-Palatinate state and Hessen, they added.
You'd have to think if they had any evidence implicating any of the "suspects", they would have kept them around, wouldn't you?

So ... what kind of terror plot was it?

A report from the South African, has more details:
"During the summer, several suspects made contact with an individual who had access to the security-restricted zone of an airport," a statement said.

The individual agreed to help smuggle explosives concealed in a case or a bag onto a plane in return for payment, it added.

But the plot broke down when the as yet unidentified suspects failed to reach agreement with the airport employee on the amount he would be paid to plant the luggage.
There's even more in The Guardian, which says:
A security official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment on the matter, said the plot was centered on the Frankfurt airport and the plan apparently was to attack a plane belonging to Israel's El Al.

Three of the suspects were apprehended in Hesse state, where the airport is located, the official said.

The six, who could face charges of belonging to or supporting a terrorist organization, were temporarily detained Friday, but five of them were released Saturday after questioning. The remaining suspect was kept in custody over an unrelated matter.

Under German law, authorities must release suspects after a maximum of 48 hours unless they have enough evidence to convince a judge that they can be held in long-term investigative custody.
So ... they don't have enough evidence to hold the suspects for even 48 hours, but they do have enough to splash the story all over the world.

The Guardian also notes:
In a similar investigation, police in the northern city of Hamburg in 2002 arrested seven suspected Islamic extremists who were believed to be plotting new terrorist attacks, only to release them several hours later.

Authorities there later said that through five months of surveillance they had not managed to come up with enough evidence to charge the men, but that they were convinced they were getting ready to act and wanted to thwart their plot.
And people wonder why we're skeptical.