Berlin police raid home on suspicion of ‘endangering state’

Police arrest two men suspected of involvement in a terrorist attack on a German city

Police and a bomb squad   in Berlin’s southern suburb of Britz. Police detained two suspects in a series of raids targeting Islamists in Berlin. Photograph: John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images

Police and a bomb squad in Berlin’s southern suburb of Britz. Police detained two suspects in a series of raids targeting Islamists in Berlin. Photograph: John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images

 

Germany has signalled its readiness to provide military assistance – but no ground troops – in the battle against IS in Syria.

As politicians discussed strategy in Berlin’s city centre, police arrested two men aged 28 and 46 in the southeastern neighbourhood of Britz on suspicion of preparing a “serious act of violence to endanger the state”.

Residents were evacuated from their homes while police with sniffer dogs searched the men’s home for suspected explosives. Police said earlier they had found a suspicious object in a car near the apartment and suspected the men of involvement in a terrorist attack on a western German city. A parallel search of a mosque across town proved inconclusive.

After meetings in Berlin on Thursday, senior coalition officials confirmed that Germany will send six Tornado reconnaissance aircraft, already in use in Afghanistan, to Syria to detect IS strongholds and militant movements.

In addition, Germany is likely to send a frigate to patrol the Syrian coastline and deploy planes to allow air-to-air refuelling.

Hours after Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Paris she would “think about” France’s request further military assistance from Berlin, her ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) signalled its willingness to step up its involvement in the region.

“We won’t just strengthen our training mission in northern Iraq but drive on our engagement in the battle against IS terror with reconnaissance Tornados,” said Mr Henning Otte, defence spokesman of the CDU. “IS can only be beaten militarily, thus there can be no taboos on our engagement.”

Earlier this week Dr Merkel’s junior coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party (SPD), insisted that IS “will not be defeated by military means alone”.

No sooner had the debate begun when it was bogged down by disagreements over the basis for a mandate to bring Germany into the conflict. One camp believes the Bundestag cannot back anything without a UN mandate, while others disagree. Government officials said on Thursday Dr Merkel’s cabinet would agree a mandate as early as next week, passing it onto the Bundestag for debate and a vote.

“A UN mandate would be better,” said Mr Rainer Arnold, defence spokesman of the SPD, “but we have last week’s UN resolution and the obligation of Europeans to assist partners - both are robust enough.”

The opposition Left Party (Linke) have warned of an increased risk of terrorist attacks should Germany join a military alliance against IS.