German police arrest four on Yom Kippur over synagogue attack plot

German police arrested four people, including a teenager, over a threat of an attack on a synagogue on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.

Hagen police said they made the arrests as a result of their investigation into the threat and had searched several buildings.

It followed a huge police deployment at and around the synagogue in Hagen, a city just east of Düsseldorf. The synagogue canceled an event due to the threat.

The Düsseldorf prosecutor’s office said that no bomb components had yet been discovered by investigators. Mobile phones and hard drives had been seized and are being evaluated, a spokesperson said.

The foiled attack likely had an Islamist motive, Armin Laschet, the state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, suggested some hours after the news broke out.

“It appears that prior to today on Yom Kippur, an Islamist motivated attack was averted,” Laschet said. “We will do everything we can to clarify which networks may have been behind” the plot.

North Rhine-Westphalia Interior Minister Herbert Reul made similar comments earlier, after confirming the arrest of a “youth” following the incident. He said a tip had pointed to “an Islamist-motivated threat situation,” and named the possible timing and suspect.

Both Der Spiegel news magazine and the Bild newspaper reported without quoting sources that a foreign intelligence service had passed on a tip that a 16-year-old Syrian was planning an explosives attack on a synagogue.

The teenager admitted establishing contact with a bomb-building expert, prosecutors said.

Terrorism authorities are also involved in the investigation, said prosecutors in Düsseldorf.

The event sparked memories of the synagogue attack in Halle. On Yom Kippur two years ago, an armed right-wing extremist tried to force his way into the synagogue there and shot two nearby people dead.

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