German Soldier ‘posed as Syrian Asylum-seeker to Carry out Terror Attack and Blame it on Refugees’*
By Justin Huggler
An officer in the German army who spent more than a year posing as a Syrian refugee has been arrested on suspicion of planning a terror attack.
The 28-year-old lieutenant, who has not been named under German privacy laws, was living a double life, prosecutors said on Thursday.
Police are believed to be working on the theory that the officer, who has a history of expressing anti-foreigner views, planned to carry out a “false flag” terror attack and blame it on refugees.
No details of the suspected terror plot have been released.
The arrested man successfully posed as Syrian asylum-seeker despite the fact he is of German background and speaks no Arabic.
He spent some time living in an official refugee shelter and was paid benefits as an asylum-seeker.
“This is quite an unusual story,” a spokesman for prosecutors in Frankfurt said.
“It’s more than strange. We will have to wait for the investigation to uncover his motives.”
The officer first came to the authorities’ attention in February, when he was arrested by Austrian police after being caught trying to hide a gun in a toilet at Vienna airport.
Although he was swiftly released, German police and the MAD military intelligence service began investigating him, and uncovered an extraordinary trail of evidence.
To investigators’ astonishment, they found that the lieutenant, who was posted to a joint Franco-German unit in France, was also living some of the time as a Syrian asylum-seeker at a refugee shelter in Germany.
He first presented himself as an asylum-seeker in December 2015, in the midst of the influx of more than 1 million migrants who flooded into the country under Angela Merkel’s “open-door” refugee policy.
He was given a place to stay in a refugee shelter in the town of Giessen, near Frankfurt, and formally applied for asylum under a false name in January 2016.
Prosecutors were at a loss to explain how he was able to register as a Syrian asylum-seeker despite the fact he speaks no Arabic and is not believed to be of Syrian origin. The authorities raised no suspicion at the time of his application.
He is believed to have continued living sporadically at a refugee shelter in the months that followed, dividing his time between there and the military base in France where he was posted.
“Just because he was stationed in France does not mean that he had to stay there every day. He was able to move freely during his free time,” a police spokesman said.
One theory being pursued by investigators is that he may have posed as a refugee to set up a false trail of evidence ahead of a terror attack. According to this theory, he would have deliberately left his fingerprints at the scene of an attack so they would lead back to the fake refugee.
A second man, a 24-year-old student from the officer’s home town of Offenbach, has also been arrested in connection with the case. Prosecutors described him as an “accomplice”, though they gave no details of his role in the alleged plot.
“We know from various voice recordings that both men had anti-foreigner views,” the prosecutors’ spokesman said.