BERLIN (AP) — German police said early Monday that they have detained a 22-year-old Syrian man who was the subject of a nationwide hunt and is believed to have been preparing a bomb attack.
Jaber Albakr was detained overnight in the eastern city of Leipzig, police in the eastern state of Saxony tweeted. They were not immediately reachable for further details.
Albakr, from the Damascus area of Syria, escaped the authorities Saturday during a raid of his apartment in nearby Chemnitz. Investigators said they found “several hundred grams” of a volatile explosive hidden in the apartment, enough to cause significant damage.
The weekend raid came after Saxony police were given a tip from Germany’s domestic intelligence service that Albakr may be planning an attack. He had been on the agency’s radar, but police said over the weekend that it was not clear for how long.
On Saturday morning, as police prepared to raid the apartment building, Albakr was observed leaving the premises. Police fired a warning shot but were unable to stop him.
Experts are trying to determine whether the explosives they found in the apartment were the same ones used in the deadly Nov. 13 attacks in Paris and the March 22 attacks in Brussels. The explosives used in those attacks are known as TATP, or triacetone triperoxide.
TATP has been used in many attacks over the years, and is favored by violent extremists because it’s fairly easy to make and detonate.
The explosives were destroyed Saturday in a controlled detonation by bomb squad experts in a pit dug outside the five-story apartment building because they were considered too dangerous to transport.
German media have reported that Albakr is believed to be connected to Islamic extremist groups, but Saxony police have not commented on his possible motive or the bomb plot’s target.
Germany has been on edge since two attacks this summer claimed by the Islamic State group in which multiple people were injured and both assailants died. Two other attacks unrelated to Islamic extremism, including a deadly mall shooting in Munich, have also contributed to fears.
During the manhunt, federal police had increased security around the country, particularly around “critical infrastructure” like train stations and airports.
The authorities said that Albakr had come to Germany in the flood of 890,000 migrants who entered the country in 2015 and had been granted asylum.
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