'Isis terrorist sleeper agent' arrested in Germany near Euro 2024 host city

20 June 2024, 11:37 | Updated: 20 June 2024, 11:57

German police
German police. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

A man has been arrested on suspicion of working as a sleeper agent for ISIS close to a Euro 2024 host city in Germany.

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The suspect, identified as an Iraqi called Mahmoud A., was arrested on Wednesday in Esslingen am Neckar, close to Stuttgart, in the state of Baden-Wurttemberg.

Police detained him on suspicion of preparing a terror attack on behalf of ISIS.

He came to Germany in October 2022, according to investigators.

Mahmoud A. is accused of joining ISIS in 2016, raising questions over why he was allowed to move to Germany six years later.

Read more: Man shot by police after brandishing 'axe and molotov cocktail' close to Euro 2024 fan zone

Read more: Clashes erupt between football fans in Gelsenkirchen as England beat Serbia 1-0 in opening Euro 2024 game

Interior minister Nancy Faeser said: "Our security authorities are extremely vigilant, follow every tip-off and strike hard to protect our country against Islamist threats".

The arrest took place just hours before Germany played Hungary in their second group game of Euro 2024 on Wednesday.

Thomas Haldenwang, the head of Germany's domestic intelligence agency, said earlier this week that the threat from Islamist terrorists had increased since October 7.

He warned that the threat from extremist groups had grown, but that "radicalised lone wolves with no clear ties to terrorist organisations" were also an issue.

Last week a 35-year-old Syrian man was also arrested in the same state on suspicion of working on behalf of ISIS between 2012 and 2015 in his home country.

It comes after several incidents of violence in Germany over the past week, including multiple shootings.

On Sunday, a man was shot by police after threatening officers with an axe and a molotov cocktail at a Euro 2024 fan zone.

Officers first used pepper spray in a bid to subdue the man, before firing a warning shot, German outlet Bild. Finally they actually shot him, at which point he fell to the ground.

That was already the second time German police have shot someone during the Euros.

Officers killed a knifeman at party in the city of Magdeburg on Friday night who had left three injured.

According to local media reports, the attack took place at a private family party.

Police drew their weapons after the attacker then turned on an officer, local media reports.

The family had sat down to watch Germany’s 5-1 win over Scotland.

The knifeman, reported to be an Afghan national according to local media, appeared in the family's garden shortly after the game began and was not known to the family.

A 50-year-old woman and a 75-year-old man were among those injured, suffering severe stab wounds according to reports. A 56-year-old man suffered minor injuries.

And on June 15, shots were fired in Berlin during the match between Italy and Albania.

A 23-year-old man was hit in the leg and arm, but managed to crawl to safety and was rescued by a German army doctor.

He has now undergone surgery and is said not to be in a life-threatening condition.

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