German Police Detain 2 Afghans For Plotting An Attack Near Swedish Parliament Over Quran Burnings

BERLIN (AP) — German police detained on Tuesday two Afghan citizens accused of planning to attack police near the Swedish parliament in response to the burning of copies of the Quran, the Muslim holy book, federal prosecutors said.

The suspects, identified only as Afghan citizens Ibrahim M.G. and Ramin N., were detained in the eastern city of Gera, the federal prosecutor's office said in a statement. The men were only identified by their first names and initials, according to German privacy laws.

The prosecutors said the Islamic State group’s affiliate in Afghanistan tasked the suspects in mid-2023 with carrying out an attack in Europe in response to Quran burnings in Sweden and other countries.

The pair made preparations for an attack on police and other people near the parliament in the Swedish capital, Stockholm, “in close coordination” with IS members, including doing online research of the location and tried unsuccessfully to procure weapons, the statement said. The attack never materialized.

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said that the detentions showed that Germany “remains very alert and acts firmly to prevent Islamist attacks. The threat from Islamist terrorism remains acute.”

Anti-Islam activists have carried out a string of public desecrations of the Quran in Sweden, sparking outrage among Muslims around the world and threats from Islamic extremists. In October, a gunman killed two Swedish soccer fans before a match in Brussels.

Swedish authorities had raised the terror alert to its second-highest level in August. They were concerned about a similar escalation as the fury Denmark faced from Muslim countries in 2006, following the publication of newspaper caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.

Danish consulates and embassies were burned and the cartoonists faced death threats from radical Islamists. Danish officials’ attempts to explain how such caricatures were protected under freedom of speech were widely dismissed in the Muslim world.

Prosecutors said Ibrahim M. G. joined the IS affiliate in August 2023. Together with Ramin N., he had raised 2,000 euros ($2,170 ) in donations for the Islamic State group to help a member jailed in northern Syria.

The Afghans are suspected of crimes including providing support to a terrorist organization, conspiracy to commit a crime, and infringements against trade laws.