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Austria reportedly seeks deportation of Tajik man held for alleged Cologne terrorist threat

Radio Liberty reported on s that Austrian police said on January 7 that a Tajik man being held in connection with an alleged terrorist plot targeting Cologne Cathedral remains in custody after two weeks as a result of a European arrest warrant issued by Austria.

Deportation proceedings are reportedly under way relating to the 30-year-old Tajik national, who was arrested after police searched a residence in Wesel, initially taking five men into custody.

On New Year’s Eve, police reportedly arrested a man in Bochum also in connection with a possible attack on the iconic cathedral and one in Austria.  Three of the arrested men — with Tajik or Uzbek nationality — were released on the instructions of a court.

As it had been reported earlier, German media reports said on December 23 that the Islamist terrorist cell had planned terrorist attacks in Germany and Austria.  Several arrests were reportedly made.

German newspaper Bild reported that authorities in Germany and Austria have received indications that an Islamist group was plotting attacks in Europe, with targets possibly including Christmas masses in Cologne and Vienna.  Bild, citing its sources, noted that the detainees are from Tajikistan, and according to the preliminary data, “they wanted to commit the terrorist act for the Islamic State – Khorasan Province (IS–K).”  According to the newspaper, one of those detained in Germany is native of Tajikistan, and he had long been known to the authorities as an extremist.  

The Cologne Cathedral is one of Germany’s most popular tourist attractions, attracting more than six million visitors each year.

Austrian police reportedly said in a statement they were boosting security for churches and Christmas markets due to the heightened state of alert.

Kurier newspaper says the terrorists could plan attack on St. Stephen’s Cathedral, which is the most important religious building in Vienna.  

Meanwhile, some media outlets, citing the Austrian interior ministry, say Austrian authorities “intervening in an Islamist network” made four arrests on December 23.  A ministry spokesman reportedly said three of the four had been detained pending further investigations.

Radio Liberty reported on January 1 that police in Germany on the same day arrested another suspect in connection with a possible planned terrorist attack on Cologne Cathedral, saying it was a 41-year-old man with German and Turkish citizenship.

A total of five suspects have reportedly been detained in connection with the terrorism alert.  On Christmas Eve, a 30-year-old Tajik was taken into custody “to avert danger.”  On December 31, three men were reportedly arrested in western Germany.  The police said they were a 25-year-old, a 30-year-old, and a 38-year-old and were described as being of “Tajik and Uzbek nationality.”

Recall, nine Central Asians, including six nationals of Tajikistan, were arrested in Germany and the Netherlands in early July last year for allegedly collecting money for the Islamic State group and planning attacks.  According to German prosecutors, the group was in contact with members of IS-K.

Source: Asia Plus