German soldier poses as Syrian refugee to plot attack

German soldier poses as Syrian refugee to plot attack
2 min read
28 April, 2017
A German soldier who registered as a Syrian refugee has been arrested by police for planning a gun attack which he intended to blame on foreigners.
The soldier registered as a Syrian refugee in 2015 [Getty]

A German soldier who registered as a Syrian refugee has been arrested by police for planning a gun attack which he intended to blame on foreigners

The 28-year-old unnamed suspect is said to have a "xenophobic background" and had been living a "double life" as a Syrian refugee, prosecutors said.

Police arrested the lieutenant on a Franco-German military base near Strasbourg in a case which involved a joint police operation across Germany, France, and Austria with raids on 16 locations.

The same day they also arrested a second German man, a 24-year-old student and alleged co-conspirator in possession of flares and other objects that breach weapons and explosives laws.

The soldier was temporarily arrested in February at Vienna airport when he tried to retrieve a loaded, unregistered handgun in a toilet.

The subsequent police investigation uncovered that the suspect created a false identity as a Syrian refugee in 2015, registering himself at a refugee shelter and even launching a request for political asylum.

Despite speaking no Arabic, his asylum request was accepted. He was granted a place in a home for refugees and received monthly financial payments under a false name.

Green party lawmaker Irene Mihalic called for an investigation into whether "in far-right circles, attacks are being planned specifically in order to blame them on refugees".

The case recalled the bizarre suspected plot behind an April 11 explosives attack against the bus of the Borussia Dortmund football team, which wounded one player and a police officer.

A German-Russian suspect allegedly staged the attack, with a fake Islamist claim of responsibility, in a bid to profit from a resulting plunge in the club's stock value.

Germany has taken in more than one million asylum seekers since 2015, many from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, sparking an anti-foreigner backlash and a spate of racist hate crimes.