BERLIN (AP) — A Syrian man was arrested in northeastern Germany on Tuesday morning for allegedly planning a bomb attack targeting "the biggest possible number of people," authorities said.
Special forces arrested the 19-year-old in the city of Schwerin, federal prosecutors said. They said the man, whose identity was only given as Yaman A. in line with Germany privacy rules, was motivated by extremist Islamic ideology. They said it wasn't clear if he had already chosen a specific target for his attack.
"According to the current investigation, Yaman A. made a decision, at the latest in July 2017, to ignite an explosive in Germany, to kill and injure the biggest possible number of people," prosecutors wrote in a statement.
The suspect had already procured chemicals used to fabricate the explosive TATP and other bomb-making materials usually used to build a remote-controlled bomb, authorities said.
Authorities searched the man's apartment and nearby homes of other people who they said weren't suspected of any involvement in the crime. An apartment in Hamburg was also searched in connection with the foiled attack, the German news agency dpa reported.
There were no indications that the accused was a member of a terror organization — though he did communicate with an unidentified "soldier of the caliphate" or Islamic State extremist group, Frauke Koehler from the federal prosecutor's office told reporters. He also researched bomb-making instructions online.
Yaman A. had already been under around the clock surveillance for some time, after the country's intelligence authorities first found traces of his activities and then were able to identify him. The spokeswoman denied to give further details on the suspect.
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere thanked officials for "preventing yet another severe terror attack in Germany."
He added the terror threat by Islamic extremists in the country, Europe and the West in general remains "unchanged at a high level."
Germany has been hit by several extremist attacks, including one in Berlin last December that killed 12.