3 al-Shabab suspects arrested in Frankfurt

AP News
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Posted: Sep 08, 2014 12:42 PM

BERLIN (AP) — Three German men suspected of being members of the Somali-based terrorist organization al-Shabab were arrested at Frankfurt airport after landing there on a flight from Kenya, prosecutors said Monday.

In Kenya, police said they are investigating a possible connection between those three men and two Germans suspected of being al-Shabab members who are being held in Nairobi.

The three German men were arrested in Frankfurt on Saturday on charges of membership in a foreign terrorist organization and of preparing an act of violence in connection with their time in Somalia, the Federal Prosecutor's Office said. However "there is no evidence the suspects had made any concrete preparations or plans for attacks" in Europe, the office said. It declined to elaborate.

The three — identified only as Steven N., 26; Abdullah W., 28; and Abdulsalam W., 23, in line with German privacy laws — are alleged to have gone to Somalia in 2012 and 2013 to join al-Shabab, and received weapons and combat training.

They were ordered held in custody as the investigation against them continues.

The acting head of the Kenya Anti-Terror Police Unit, John Mulaulu, said Kenyan police arrested two German men in their twenties on Aug. 29 in Nairobi.

Mulaulu said the two suspects — Warsame Abdi Wahid and Pebourbi Mounir — were planning to return to Germany and may have recently fled Somalia during a military offensive against al-Shabab.

Kenya has long been a transit point for foreign extremists and recruits looking to fight for al-Shabab in neighboring Somalia.

Al-Shabab operates primarily in Somalia's rural regions after being ousted in 2011 from Mogadishu, the capital, by African Union forces.

A year ago, Al-Shabab gunmen attacked the Westgate Mall in Kenya, killing at least 67 people.

Al-Shabab announced over the weekend that it has appointed a new leader to replace Ahmed Abdi Godane, who was killed in a U.S. airstrike a week ago.

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AP correspondent Tom Odula contributed from Nairobi.