Hidden in the Fridge: Police Overlook Explosives in Salafist’s Home


Source: spiegel.de(SPIEGEL/acb)

Police first discovered a pistol and explosives in Marco G.'s Bonn apartment, but missed more explosives in the refrigerator.

Police first discovered a pistol and explosives in Marco G.’s Bonn apartment, but missed more explosives in the refrigerator.

German authorities investigating alleged plans by Islamists to assassinate a far-right leader appear to have made a serious mistake. After overlooking explosives in their initial search of a suspect’s apartment, they then detonated the material without first taking samples for analysis.

Police in Bonn have destroyed evidence found in an Islamist’s apartment that could have linked the suspect to an attempted bombing at the city’s central train station, in what appears to be a major misstep in their investigation.

On March 13, authorities raided the Bonn apartment of Marco G., 25, on suspicion of planning to assassinate the leader of the anti-Islamright-wing extremist group Pro-NRW. On the same day, police also arrested three other suspects in the case identified as Tayfun S., 23; Enea B., 43; and Koray D, 24. All four are adherents to Salafism, an ultra-conservative branch of Islam.

The raid of G.’s apartment uncovered a Ceska pistol and 616 grams of ammonium nitrate. However, police managed to overlook something.

While in custody, Marco G. asked a social worker to tell his wife not to go near the fridge because there was risk of an explosion. Police returned to the apartment two days later with a bomb disposal unit and discovered more explosive material in the fridge.

The police promptly took the explosives to a nearby open space, placed it in a hole in the ground and conducted a controlled explosion — without first taking samples of the material for testing. A team of specialists and bomb analysts are now trying to determine the chemical make-up of the material with the ashes left over from the explosion.

No Proof of Connection to Bomb Plot

The blunder was particularly striking because police are also investigating a possible connection between the four Salafists and an apparent bombing attempt at the Bonn train station in December last year. In that incident, authorities also found ammonium nitrate in a blue duffel bag. Early analysis showed both similarities and differences between that material and the ammonium nitrate first found in G.’s apartment.

Marco G. reportedly has no alibi for the train station bomb incident, having failed to show up for an appointment around the same time at the local job center. There appears to be no physical evidence directly connecting him or the other three suspects to the train station plot, though.

The case of the assassination plot against Pro-NRW leader Markus Beisicht has been taken on by the Federal Prosecutor’s Office. Two of the suspects were arrested near Beisicht’s home in Leverkusen, where officials believe they were conducting reconnaissance in preparation for an attack. The other two suspects were arrested in Bonn and Essen. Three of the suspects are German citizens, while the fourth is Albanian.

In addition to the weapons and explosives, investigators also found a list of eight Pro-NRW leaders, including Beisicht, marked in red. Pro-NRW is anotoriously provocative anti-Islam fringe party, known for protesting the construction of a mosque in Cologne and launching an anti-Islam caricature contest.