| Terrorism

Tajik IS terror suspect arrested in Albania for links with German cell



Masked policemen are seen on the grounds of the Federal Supreme Court in Karlsruhe, Germany, on April 15, after five Tajiks suspected to be members of an IS terror cell were arrested. [Thomas Lohnes/AFP]

TIRANA, Albania -- Albanian authorities have arrested a Tajik citizen sought by Germany for suspected membership in a cell of the "Islamic State" (IS) terrorist group, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported Thursday (April 30).

The country's Antiterror Directorate arrested a 24-year-old Tajik national, identified only as K.Z., in a joint operation with Interpol, said Albanian state police in a statement April 30.

A federal court in Karlsruhe, Germany, on April 21 issued an international arrest warrant for the suspect, who is accused of being a member of a terrorist cell in Germany that had been set up to carry out violent acts on behalf of IS, the police added.

The case was referred to prosecutors in Tirana so they could work on extraditing him to Germany.

Albanian news website Top Channel identified the man as Komrom Zukhurov and said he was arrested in Tirana Wednesday (April 29).

Arrest follows 5 arrests in Germany

The arrest comes two weeks after German authorities reported they had detained five Tajik nationals suspected of forming an IS cell that plotted attacks on German soil.

The group was allegedly planning attacks on US Air Force bases in the country and on an unidentified individual they deemed critical of Islam.

German prosecutors said four of the suspects -- all from Tajikistan -- were arrested on April 15 in Siegen, Heinsberg and Werdohl, all in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

The fifth suspect, also a Tajik national believed to be the leader of the terror cell, has been in custody since March 2019. The men are all aged between 24 and 32. They arrived in Germany as refugees.

The men joined IS in January 2019 and had orders from IS to form a cell in Germany, prosecutors said.

Suspects had guns and ammo, say prosecutors

The attacks were not imminent, but the suspects already had guns and ammunition and had downloaded online instructions for making a bomb, said prosecutors.

To raise money for their terrorist plot, the ringleader, identified as Ravshan B., and another suspect travelled to Albania to perform a $40,000 contract killing, said prosecutors.

However, the operation collapsed and the two men returned to Germany, according to the Germans.

The men allegedly had contacts with two high-ranking IS leaders in Syria and Afghanistan.

IS has claimed several terrorist attacks in Germany in recent years, including a truck rampage through a Christmas market in Berlin in December 2016. It killed 12 people.

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