A German soldier has been arrested for posing as a Syrian refugee and allegedly planning a “false flag” terrorist attack that would be blamed on asylum seekers.
The soldier who has not been named was detained when he went to retrieve a loaded gun he had stashed in a bathroom at Vienna International Airport.
The public prosecutor’s office in Frankfurt said the 28-year-old is suspected of planning a serious “state-threatening act of violence”, violating firearms laws and and fraud.
Nearly a hundred German police officers have worked alongside French and Austrian security services to search 16 locations across three countries last Wednesday, when a suspected accomplice was arrested in Bavaria.
Investigations have revealed that the Bundeswehr lieutenant was stationed at Illkirch-Graffenstaden in France before registering as a Syrian refugee in Germany.
He provided false information to German authorities on 30 December 2015 – as the country received the arrival of almost a million refugees.
Posing as a Syrian refugee but reportedly speaking in French, as opposed to Arabic, the man submitted an asylum application at Zirndorf in Bavaria last January.
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Frankfurt prosecutor’s office said: “As a result, he was given shelter in a refugee home and has received monthly financial benefits under this false identity.
“These findings, as well as other evidence, point towards a xenophobic motive for the soldier’s suspected plan to commit an attack using a weapon deposited at Vienna airport.”
If the plan had succeeded, his fingerprints would have registered on the refugee records system and led investigators to his fraudulent identity as a Syrian refugee, that would have inevitably increased negative scrutiny against asylum seekers in Germany.
The man’s suspected 24-year-old student accomplice was arrested in Hammelburg for alleged involvement in the terror plot.
Police have searched the homes of the two suspects with detectives seizing “extensive material” including numerous documents, laptops and mobile phones.
Prosecutors said the soldier had no legal documentation for the 7.65mm pistol hidden in Vienna, while prohibited weapons were also found at his accomplice’s property.
Both men remain in custody in Frankfurt as the investigation continues.
“False flag” trend
The soldier was arrested days after state prosecutors confirmed that the man who planned the Dortmund bus bombings had attempted to frame ISIS to profit from shares.
Sergej W, a dual German-Russian national, detonated three bombs targeting a bus carrying the Borussia Dortmund football team, seriously injuring one player last month.
He left poorly written letters at the crime scene claiming the attack was in revenge for German military action against ISIS, but investigations revealed that he was not an ISIS fighter but a stock trader planning to increase profits from share sales.