Germans ID convert, 27, as terror suspect

AP News
Posted: Nov 15, 2009 12:29 PM

Authorities have identified a 27-year-old German convert to Islam as an al-Qaida associate suspected of traveling to Afghanistan and planning to attack German targets.

The report could fuel concerns about European converts being recruited by Islamist terrorist groups for attacks.

The Federal Criminal Police Office confirmed a Spiegel Online report Sunday that it had posted notices across Afghanistan warning that Jan Schneider, a Kazakhstan-born ethnic German, may plan attacks on German military or civilian institutions in Afghanistan.

The posters were published in several languages and included a description of the suspect and his picture. They were put up at German military bases and civilian institutions, security check points, embassies and the international airport, according to Spiegel.

Schneider, who is also known as Hamza, has recently traveled to the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan, Spiegel reported. He left Germany in 2004 to study Arabic in Saudi Arabia. He was seen in his hometown of Saarbruecken several times after his departure from Germany.

According to the report, Schneider allegedly is an acquaintance of Fritz Gelowicz, a member of an alleged radical Islamic terrorist cell whose plot to attack U.S. targets in Germany was foiled by authorities in 2007.

Spiegel also wrote that the criminal office has warned of several other German extremists who supposedly have traveled to Afghanistan in recent months.

More than five million ethnic Germans have immigrated to the country from the former Soviet Union, Poland, Romania and other Eastern European countries since the 1950s under a special migration law for persons who can prove German ancestry.