(CNSNews.com) – Almost two years after German authorities granted a Syrian asylum-seeker permission to stay, the man was arrested at the weekend after allegedly trying to secure funds from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) to carry out car bomb attacks that would “kill a large number of people not of the Muslim faith.”
Authorities in the state of Saarland said the 38-year-old man, who has not been named, had asked the terrorist group for 180,000 euros ($188,700) to buy eight vehicles.
He apparently got in touch with an ISIS contact using the free encrypted messaging app Telegram.
The suspect – who comes from Raqqa, the capital of the group’s so-called caliphate – had reportedly told the contact he would disguise the vehicles as police cars, rig them with explosives, and detonate them in crowds.
The office of the state’s chief prosecutor Christoph Rebmann said the man had told the ISIS contact he would buy vehicles for 22,500 euros ($23,580) each, repaint them, and load each one with 400-500 kilograms of explosives as part of a “holy campaign.”
The booby-trapped vehicles would be driven to crowded areas, and detonated in order to “kill a large number of people not of the Muslim faith.”
The prosecutor’s office said the suspect had admitted being in contact with ISIS, but denied plans to carry out terror attacks.
Saarland police said in a statement that the suggested attacks were to take place in Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Police in Germany and across Europe were on high alert ahead of New Year festivities. The police said the man had been arrested in the early hours of Saturday morning, although evidence found in his possession gave no indication of a “concrete threat” to the looming New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Authorities said the man had arrived in Germany in December 2014 and was given permission to stay a month later. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s “open door” refugee and migrant policies have drawn sharp criticism from some quarters in Germany, and are seen as an important factor as the country heads towards a general election this year.
On December 19, a Tunisian man whose asylum application in Germany had been rejected drove a truck into crowds at a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people. The suspect fled across Europe, making it across several borders before being shot dead during a shootout with police near Milan, Italy.
Last summer, 86 people were killed when a man, also Tunisian, drove a 20-ton truck through hundreds of people on Bastille Day in the French city of Nice.
The attacks in Berlin and Nice were both claimed by ISIS.