Germany Arrests Alleged Mastermind Behind Bardo Museum Terror Attack

The Tunisian national was targeted in a massive raid.

Policemen of a special unit stand next to their cars on the grounds of the Bilal mosque in the Griesheim district of Frankfurt am Main, western Germany, on February 1, 2017. Photo courtesy BORIS ROESSLER/AFP/Getty Images.

Police in Germany have arrested a man allegedly involved in the “planning and execution” of the terrorist attack on the Tunis’ Bardo Museum in March 2015, in which 21 foreign tourists were killed. The Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack.

Aside from the Bardo Museum attack, the state prosecutor’s office in Frankfurt am Main said the 36-year-old Tunisian national is also being investigated for his alleged involvement in an attack on the city of Ben Guerdane on the Tunisia-Libya border in March 2016, which left dozens dead.

The suspect is accused of working as a recruiter and smuggler for IS, and was reportedly building a network of supporters with the aim of planning an attack on Germany. Alexander Badle, spokesman for the state prosecutor in Frankfurt am Main, told journalists at a press conference that authorities believe the plans were still in the early stages and stressed that there was no concrete target yet.

According to Spiegel Online, Germany’s interior minister Thomas de Maizière said that German authorities had been tracking the man since he entered the country and applied for asylum in August 2015. The German weekly reported that the Tunisian had previously lived in Germany for over a decade between 2003 and April 2013.

The suspect was previously apprehended for extradition because of a Tunisian arrest warrant issued in September 2016; however when Tunisian authorities did not submit the completed documents by the end of the deadline on November 4, the man was released from custody. Following his release, German authorities observed him until his arrest last Wednesday.

The suspect was apprehended in an large-scale, early morning police raid involving over 1,000 officers targeting 54 apartments, mosques, and shops in the German state of Hesse. Authorities also arrested 15 other suspects between the ages of 16 and 46.

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