Five suspected Islamic State extremists have been arrested in Germany, according to a team of investigative reporters at Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and broadcasters NDR and WDR. The arrests took place in the German states of Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia, the media outlets reported. The suspects include Ahmad Abdelazziz A, a high profile member of Germany’s Islamist community. The 32-year-old Iraqi national has been under investigation since last year for recruiting would-be jihadists in Germany and organizing their travel to Iraq and Syria. Recently three Syrian asylum seekers arrested in Germany on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack on behalf of Islamic State were linked to the perpetrators of attacks in Paris.
Evidence gathered during months of investigations pointed to the fact that the men – aged 17, 18 and 26 – were brought to Europe by the same smugglers responsible for the arrival of Islamist extremists who killed 130 people in Paris.
Germany has been on high alert since two Islamic State-claimed terrorist attacks in the space of one week in July. Both were carried out by asylum seekers. Chancellor Angela Merkel has been the target of sustained criticism from her political allies for her promise of sanctuary to Syrians fleeing war, which led to hundreds of thousands of arrivals in the last four months of 2015.