After the arrest of the brothers Monir, 32, and Jalal J., 25, in Castrop-Rauxel, state security officers discovered compromising messages and search history on cell phones. Accordingly, the Iranians are said to have talked about what things are needed to build a bio-bomb.
With the help of the two highly toxic substances ricin and cyanide, it is suspected that the two alleged supporters of the terrorist militia “Islamic State” (IS) wanted to kill numerous people. The telltale clues after an initial evaluation were enough for the Düsseldorf public prosecutor to obtain two arrest warrants from the district court on Sunday. It’s about conspiring to commit a crime. In this case murder.
After a tip from a neighbor, emergency services in NBC protective suits searched two garages on Monday. According to a spokesman for the authorities, no further evidence was found.
The US federal police FBI had already informed the German authorities about the terrorist plans of the two suspects over the Christmas period. Accordingly, the brothers are said to have planned the assassination attempt on New Year’s Eve, but since some utensils for building the bomb were apparently still missing, they were still waiting.
At the beginning of the investigation, it was not clear in which federal state the terrorist suspects lived. After days of investigation, the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) informed the Düsseldorf public prosecutor’s office on Saturday morning that the trail led to Castrop-Rauxel. The two brothers were arrested shortly before midnight.
So far, there has been no evidence that the suspects were controlled from outside or belonged to a terrorist cell. Further investigations must also clarify the extent of any attack plans. In addition, state security officials want to break down the motive behind the terrorist plot. The question also arises as to which of the brothers played the key role in the preparation?
The previous findings on the lives of the two accused raise more questions than they provide answers. Because neither of the two biographies wants to fit in with a militant Islamist. Both traveled to Germany in the course of the refugee crisis in 2015. Monir J., the older brother, stated in 2016 that he had converted to Christianity and therefore had to flee. He then received a three-year residency status, which was renewed again. So far, the 32-year-old Iranian has not been on the radar of state security officials.
The younger brother is on record for a homicide. In January 2019, Jalal J. was sentenced to seven years for attempted murder. At the time, the Iranian was considered an alcoholic. A good six months earlier, a bus driver had called the police because the Iranian passenger was circling the beer bottle and did not want to get off.
The alarmed officials finally maneuvered the young man outside and let him go. Heavily drunk, Jalal J. crossed a bridge over the A 45 motorway. There was a large pile of wood from tree felling. Completely furious, the delinquent grabbed a 2.60 meter long branch and threw it 17 meters down onto the road. A driver drove into the ten-kilogram projectile, the car rose, the windshield splintered. Miraculously, the woman escaped with minor injuries.
In January 2019, the court found reduced criminal responsibility at the time of the crime due to substantial alcohol consumption. After a year and a half in prison, Jalal J. was placed in a locked ward at rehab. Most recently he was accommodated in Hagen. There, the convict was inconspicuous, so that the doctors ordered relaxation measures. From then on, Jalal J. was allowed to spend the weekends with his brother.
According to Henner Kruse, spokesman for the Dortmund public prosecutor’s office, which acted as the enforcement authority in the Iranian’s case, there was no evidence of radical Islamic sentiments. “The man showed no abnormalities.”
But what drove the two brothers to possibly devote themselves to jihad?
The security authorities in Germany count 28,000 Islamists, and the BKA currently lists a good 520 threats, far more than in the left- and right-wing extremist spectrum combined. Last July, the “Welt” stated that the terrorism department of the federal prosecutor’s office has been conducting almost 95 percent of the 800 cases against Islamists since 2020. In the past six years, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution has recorded ten attacks in Germany. The assassination attempt by the Tunisian IS member Anis Amri at the Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz with eleven dead stood out.
Terrorist attacks by militant Muslims were thwarted in 21 cases. A large part through references from foreign partner services, especially from the USA. This also applies to the ricin bomber Sief Allah H., who was exposed in Cologne in 2018. The NSA put the German colleagues in the picture at the time.
Against this background, North Rhine-Westphalia Interior Minister Herbert Reul (CDU) criticized in the ZDF morning show that Germany is completely dependent on France, England, the Netherlands or the USA when it comes to online criminal hunting. Despite a judgment by the European Court of Justice, the federal government is still struggling to create a new regulation for data retention. “Instead of simply putting this into practice, people are banging around in Berlin and nothing comes of it,” complained Minister Reul.
So far, providers have not had to store any data about IP addresses. Investigators are often only able to unmask child porn networks or terror plans via these accounts. According to BKA boss Holger Münch, around 120,000 reports of child pornography are received each year, primarily from the USA. A success rate of 75 percent of cases is currently being achieved, but 90 percent would be possible with data retention, according to Münch.
Experts from the security authorities have been complaining for a long time how much Germany is lagging behind other countries when it comes to hunting criminals and terror online. Even WhatsApp chats can only be followed with great effort. Encrypted Telegram messages are almost impossible to crack. In addition, investigations into IP addresses fail simply because the Russian provider cannot be found. The installation of spyware on computers (state Trojans) is only possible in serious cases. In addition, the enormous effort is usually only countered by a manageable success.
In 2020, the Federal Constitutional Court chained the Federal Intelligence Service. Since then, slouch hats in Berlin and Pullach have no longer been allowed to eavesdrop on the Taliban, IS cadres or other terrorist groups abroad without cause. Unless a specially appointed commission recognizes an initial suspicion and approves the eavesdropping.
The BND can no longer smuggle informants into a terrorist organization because otherwise it would be liable to prosecution for instigating or aiding and abetting. “If, for example, the German foreign secret service is no longer allowed to infiltrate the Taliban’s inner circle through its own sources, you will of course not receive any important insider information,” criticized ex-BND boss Gerhard Schindler of the judge’s verdict. “The Basic Law now also protects the Taliban.”