What to Know:
German authorities have detained five suspects involved in an alleged attack plot against the Cologne Cathedral on New Year’s Eve. Cologne police chief Johannes Hermanns told German media outlet DPA that the suspects are allegedly part of a larger Islamic jihadist network operating out of Europe, but did not specify a particular terror group.
The first suspect, only identified as a 30-year-old Tajik national, was detained on Christmas Eve following a police operation in the city of Wesel, according to German media outlet DW. Authorities were tipped off after the suspect visited the cathedral while allegedly planning the attack.
Three other suspects were detained during police raids yesterday on New Year’s Eve in the cities of Duisburg, Herne and Norvenich. No information has been made available about their identities.
The latest suspect, described by German media as a 41-year-old German-Turkish man, was detained last night during a raid in the city of Bochum.
During a press announcement, Cologne police chief Johannes Hermanns reported that investigators believe that the attack would involve a vehicle, but did not specify as to how it would be use. German newspaper Bild reported that the plot would have involved the use of a Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED), or car bomb.
Terror attacks in Europe using vehicles in recent years have been ramming attacks due to their relative ease in carrying out and effectiveness to inflict mass casualties. In 2016 and 2017, there were over a dozen vehicle ramming attacks against European countries that resulted in over 140 deaths and hundreds of additional casualties, most notably in Nice, Berlin, Stockholm, and Barcelona.
German officials increased security measures throughout Cologne for New Years celebrations, which went on without incident.