German authorities arrested three suspected Islamic terrorists for allegedly plotting attacks on Frankfurt International Airport.
Prosecutors said they had arrested three suspected members of "an Islamic-motivated terrorist organization," but gave no further details. German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung told ARD broadcaster the three men were suspected of targeting the airport and base.
"There was an imminent threat," Jung said, but declined to elaborate. The Sudwestrundfunk public broadcaster said two of the suspects had German citizenship while the third was Pakistani.
Prosecutors in Karlsruhe said the arrests took place on Tuesday afternoon, and that police had also carried out searches across the country. The suspects are to be brought before a judge later Wednesday.
German and U.S. officials have warned of the possibility of a terrorist attack, and security measures have been increased.
Navy Capt. Jeff Gradeck, spokesman for the U.S. military's European Command in Stuttgart said German authorities had contacted them concerning the alleged plot, but had no further information.
"We extend our gratitude to Germany for their efforts in protecting us," Gradeck said.
The leading Der Spiegel weekly said in its online edition that the group has been under observation by German authorities for many months and all three men are considered radical Islamists with contacts to terror cells abroad.
Authorities decided to move in on the group after they were observed moving a stock of chemicals that could be used for making a bomb from one storehouse to another, Spiegel said.
Germany, which did not send troops to Iraq, has largely been spared terrorist attacks like the train and subway bombings in Madrid and London - although its involvement in the attempt to stabilize Afghanistan against Islamic insurgents has led to fears it might be targeted.
In July 2006 two gas bombs were placed on commuter trains but did not explode. Officials said that attack was motivated by anger over cartoons portraying the Prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper. Several suspects are on trial in Lebanon, and a Lebanese man has been charged in Germany.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said in an interview released Wednesday that German troops would remain in Afghanistan for several more years, despite recent setbacks in the region.
"To walk away would send the wrong signal," Merkel told N-24 television.
US President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Qadimi signed an agreement on July 26 to formally end the USA's military presence in the country by the end of the year