Berlin—A 16-year-old boy was detained Thursday in connection with a possible plan for an Islamic extremist attack on the synagogue in the German city of Hagen, officials said.
Detention took place two years after the deadly assault on Yom Kippur, the most holy day of Judaism, and another German city on Yom Kippur’s holiday.
Police blocked the synagogue on Wednesday and the scheduled worship service in the evening was cancelled.
Herbert Reul, Interior Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, where Hagen is located, has received “very serious and specific information” that the synagogue could be attacked during Yom Kippur. Said he was. He added that the tip pointed out “a situation of threats motivated by Islam” and nominated possible timings and suspects.
Police using detection dogs did not find any dangerous objects in or around the synagogue, Leul said. A 16-year-old Syrian citizen living in Hagen was detained Thursday morning. According to the minister, the other three were detained in the attack on the apartment.
The prosecution told news agency dpa that the three (reportedly a teenage father and two siblings) were released Thursday night and are no longer suspected. They admitted that the boy had contacted a bomb-making expert via the messaging app Telegram, but said he had no intention of attacking the synagogue.
Investigators searched the teenager’s home and found no parts of the bomb, but confiscated cell phones and other materials.
Reul doesn’t say where the hints about the alleged threat came from.
The news magazine Der Spiegel reported that it came from a foreign intelligence agency without identifying the source. The investigation turned the investigator into 16 years old when a teenager told someone in an online chat that he was planning an explosive attack on the synagogue.
Two years ago, in Yom Kippur, German militants attacked the synagogue in the eastern German city of Halle. The attack is considered one of the worst anti-Semitic attacks in the country’s postwar history.
The attackers repeatedly tried but failed, breaking into the synagogue with 52 worshipers inside. He then shot and killed a 40-year-old woman on the street outside and a 20-year-old man at a nearby kebab shop.
He posted an anti-Semitic screed before running October 9, 2019, attacked in the city of Halle in eastern Germany, and broadcast live shootings on popular game sites.
German Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht sharply condemned the failed Hagen attack.
“It is unbearable that the Jews are again exposed to such a terrifying threat and they cannot celebrate the beginning of their best vacation together,” the minister said.