German authorities were searching Thursday for about 10 suspected supporters of an Islamic group linked to Al Qaeda believed to have assisted three militants arrested for plotting imminent attacks against Americans in Germany, an official said.
Authorities believed “some 10” further suspects provided support to the two German converts and a Turkish citizen who were arrested Tuesday, August Hanning, a top security official, told the ARD broadcaster.
“This is the network that we are aware of at the moment,” Hanning said, adding that authorities believe the splintered cell — which includes more converted Germans, Turks and other citizens — no longer poses a direct security threat.
The three arrested suspects had military-style detonators and enough material to make bombs more powerful than those that killed 191 people in Madrid in 2004 and 52 commuters in London two years ago, prosecutors said Wednesday.
“We were able to succeed in recognizing and preventing the most serious and massive bombings,” German Federal Prosecutor Monika Harms said at a news conference Wednesday. She declined to name specific targets.
In Washington, a senior U.S. State Department official said German investigators had determined the Frankfurt International Airport and the nearby U.S. Ramstein Air Base were the primary targets of the plot, but that those arrested may have also been considering strikes on other sites, particularly facilities associated with the U.S.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity to describe discussions between U.S. and German intelligence agencies.