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TERRORISM

Germany charges suspected IS member over alleged terror attacks

German federal prosecutors said Wednesday they were investigating an alleged member of the Islamic State terrorist group suspected of a series of acid and arson attacks, and of planning killings with a gun and explosives.

The suspect, named only as Muharrem D., faces charges of attempted murder against 27 people by arson, and of grievous bodily harm against six, as well as planning “a serious violent act endangering the state”.

Beginning in mid-April, Muharrem is believed to have committed a series of violent crimes against Turkish-owned businesses and a mosque in Waldkraiburg, a small town near Germany's border with Austria.

Investigators say he also secured a pistol with ammunition as well as “significant amounts” of bomb-making equipment for planned attacks on nearby mosques, the Turkish consulate in Munich and a major mosque in the western city of Cologne.

He manufactured 23 pipe bombs and 34 kilogrammes of explosives.

Investigators said in a statement that German citizen Muharrem “underwent a radicalisation process from 2017 onwards, becoming a follower of an Islamist-jihadist worldview as well as the 'Islamic State' (IS) terror group.”

Turkish intervention in the Syria conflict and other actions by Ankara were the basis for an “enduring hatred of the Turkish state and people of Turkish origin,” prosecutors said, adding that he aimed “to bring about a spiral of violence and retaliation” with his attacks.

People with ties to IS have committed several violent attacks in Germany in recent years, with the worst a ramming attack at a Berlin Christmas market in December 2016 that killed 12.

READ ALSO: Berlin remembers victims of Christmas market terror attack three years on

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BREAKING

Swedish prosecutors upgrade Almedalen knife attack to terror crime

Prosecutors in Sweden are now treating the murder at the Almedalen political festival as a terror crime, with the country's Säpo security police taking over the investigation.

Swedish prosecutors upgrade Almedalen knife attack to terror crime

In a press release issued on Monday evening, the Swedish Prosecution Authority, said that the 32-year-old attacker, Theodor Engström, was now suspected of the crime of “terrorism through murder”, and also “preparation for a terror crime through preparation for murder”. 

Engström stabbed the psychiatrist Ing-Marie Wieselgren last Wednesday as she was on her way to moderate a seminar at the Almedalen political festival on the island of Gotland. 

Although he was a former member of the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement, police said his motive seemed to be to protest against Sweden’s psychiatry services, who he felt had treated his own mental illness badly. 

The release gave no details as to why the 32-year-old was now being investigated for a more serious crime, but terror expert Magnus Ranstorp told the Expressen newspaper that the shift indicated that police had uncovered new evidence. 

READ ALSO: What do we now know about the Almedalen knife attack? 

“The new crime classification means that they’ve either found a political motive for the attack which meets the threshold for terrorism, and that might be a political motive for murdering Ing-Marie Wieselgren,” he said. “Or they might have discovered that he was scouting out a politician, or another target that could be considered political.” 

Engström’s defence lawyer said last week that his client, who he described as disturbed and incoherent, had spoken in police interrogations of having “a higher-up target”. 

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