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Suspected militants including Hamas members arrested in Europe for potential anti-Jewish attacks

Three Hamas members were detained in Berlin, three in Denmark and another Hamas member was detained in the Netherlands. Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said the threat was "as serious as it gets" as the EU warned of an increase in terrorist attacks around Christmas earlier this month.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Berlin Updated on: December 14, 2023 23:14 IST
German Justice Minister Marco Buschmann.
Image Source : REUTERS German Justice Minister Marco Buschmann.

Four members of the Gaza-based militant group Hamas alongside other militants have been detained on suspicion of planning attacks on Jewish institutions in Europe, according to German prosecutors and other authorities on Thursday. Three suspects were detained in Berlin, three in Denmark and another was detained in the Netherlands, BBC reported.

Dutch national Nazih R was arrested by police in Rotterdam, while Lebanon-born Abdelhamid Al A and Ibrahim El-R, as well as Egyptian national Mohamed B, were arrested in the German capital. All four of them are longstanding members of Hamas with close links to the leadership of the militant group's military branch.

According to the prosecutors, Abdelhamid Al A was tasked with souring weapons in Lebanon which were to be taken to Berlin and used for potential terrorist attacks against Jewish institutions. "Following the terrible attacks by Hamas on the Israeli population, attacks on Jews in Jewish institutions have also increased in our country in recent weeks," said German Justice Minister Marco Buschmann.

"We must therefore do everything we can to ensure that Jews in our country do not have to fear for their safety again," he further said. European authorities have warned of an increased risk of attacks by Islamists following the Israel-Hamas war.

Threat to Jews in Europe

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said the threat was "as serious as it gets". The person arrested in Rotterdam was a 57-year-old Dutch citizen who was also a suspect in the Danish inquiry, although Danish authorities have not confirmed a link with the German investigation.

The three suspects arrested in Denmark would be charged with terror offences, said Chief Inspector Flemming Drejer, adding that they are scheduled to appear in closed court hearings on Thursday. Danish Justice Minister Peter Hummelgaard said that the alleged plot "tragically confirms that Danish Jews are under threat".

"The Hamas terrorist organization has been working relentlessly and exhaustively to expand its lethal operations to Europe, and constitutes a threat to the security of these countries," said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Office.

It further said that Mossad and other agencies will continue to combine forces and capabilities with their partners in the country and around the world in order to thwart Hamas's intentions and eliminate its capabilities.

"In recent years, but especially since the murderous assault of October 7th, Hamas has striven to expand its operational capabilities around the world, especially in Europe, in order to realize its aspirations to attack Israeli, Jewish and Western targets at any price," said Netanyahu's Office on X.

Burning of Qurans also noted

According to Danish intelligence chief Anja Dalgaard-Nielsen, the threat was linked to the Israel-Gaza war and burnings of the Quran in Denmark and neighbouring Sweden. The ongoing war between Israel and Hamas has already devastated much of Gaza and killed over 18,000 people.

Drejer claimed that an investigation into the presence of Hamas members had revealed a transnational network of people preparing an attack with links to criminal gangs. He further said that security would be reinforced around Jewish sites and police patrols would be increased in Copenhagen.

Earlier this month, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson warned that Europe faced a "huge risk" of terrorist attacks over the Christmas period. 

(with inputs from Reuters)


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