German authorities think they "have thwarted an Islamist attack," and a married couple has been arrested in a town near Frankfurt in connection with the case, the interior minister for the German state of Hesse told reporters Thursday.
The couple was arrested Wednesday night in Oberursel, a town near Frankfurt in west-central Germany, said Peter Beuth, interior minister for Hesse. "We suspect that there was a Salafist background," Beuth said, referring to ultra-fundamentalist interpretations of Islam. "Police investigations at this stage indicate that we have thwarted an Islamist attack."
Hesse's top public prosecutor, Albrecht Schreiber, told reporters in Wiesbaden that an array of dangerous items were seized from a couple's apartment overnight; the two suspects were arrested on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack.
Schreiber confirmed the discovery of a completed pipe bomb, police found three liters of hydrogen peroxide, 100 rounds of live 9-milimeter munitions, a training projectile for a rocket-propelled grenade, methylated spirits, diesel, other "unknown fluids," and also "meaningful parts of a G3 assault rifle." The rifle was disassembled, Schreiber said, and police were working to ascertain whether the complete set of parts was present in the flat
The overnight arrest of a 35-year-old German with Turkish roots and his 34-year-old wife is believed to have prevented a terrorist attack in the region. Friday's cycling race around Frankfurt had been identified as a potential target in the press; police president Stefan Müller said investigators had not ruled out the possibility, but did not yet know.
That is, of course, a soft target, it would be relatively easy to attack," Müller said. "And since the Boston Marathon [attack of 2013], such events are closely watched - which also applies to cycling races."
Schreiber explained that the male suspect was seen in recent days surveying parts of the route of the cycling race, around Germany's financial capital on the Mayday public holiday. This intensified police attention on him.
The suspects had been seen in a local hardware store purchasing the hydrogen peroxide,(three litres, using a false name) Schreiber said, adding that the wife's presence in the store was one of the reasons for her to be arrested along with her husband.
Deputy chief prosecutor Stefan Rojczyk said: " This hydrogen peroxide triggered an alert. Police figured out who had bought it and it was decided to act fast."
Newspaper reports claim that the man is trained in chemistry.
Schreiber and Müller said it was too early to comment on reports that a conservative Islamic text was seized in the flat.