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Four Muslim extremists dubbed 'Masters of Death' jailed for plot to mount a 'second 9/11'


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Four Muslim extremists dubbed 'Masters of Death' jailed for plot to mount a 'second 9/11'



By Allan Hall

Last updated at 4:42 PM on 04th March 2010




Four Muslim extremists who were planning 'bloodbaths' at U.S. targets in Germany that would have dwarfed the 7/7 London tube attacks have today been jailed.

Ringleader Fritz Gelowicz was sentenced to 12 years, his German accomplice Daniel Schneider - both converts to Islam - was given 11 years and two other men were jailed for five years for their roles in a plot to detonate explosives 100 times more powerful than those used in the 2005 London bombings.

The four men were known as the 'Sauerland cell', after the tourist region where they stockpiled massive amounts of chemicals for the bombs.






Ringleaders: Fritz Gelowicz, left, and accomplice Daniel Schneider were jailed for 12 and 11 years for their role in a plot to blow up U.S. targets in Germany


In a rare move, prosecutors allowed the men to plea-bargain their guilt in return for what they hoped would be shorter sentences.

Volker Brinkmann, prosecuting, said the gang 'had planned a mass murder unrivalled in Germany'.

He said: 'They acted out of blind hatred for American soldiers.


'It is terrible to think they enjoyed the concept of terror attacks that would have killed at least 150 soldiers as well as women and children.

'They appointed themselves masters over life and death.'

Gelowicz, Schneider and Turk Adem Yilmaz were captured in Sauerland in 2007 after stockpiling hydrogen peroxide, which can be used to make car bombs and other explosives.

Turkish-German Attila Selek was later arrested in Turkey where he was to acquire the detonators for the bombs. He was extradited to Germany in 2008.

The cell were under surveillance by intelligence agents as they formulated their plan. Whenever they left their hideout, agents swapped the chemicals for water, rendering their plans useless.






Cell: Turk Adem Yilmaz, left, was arrested with the two other extremists in Sauerland and Attila Selek was arrested in Turkey trying to acquire detonators


All four men have given detailed accounts of their terrorist training at a camp in Pakistan's 'bandit country' of Waziristan, as well as details of the U.S. bases they planned to target for the Islamic Jihadist Union (IJU).

The terror attacks were to take place in October 2007, when parliament was voting to extend German participation in the NATO force in Afghanistan.

Rolf Tophoven, director of the institute of terrorism research and security policy in Essen, said: 'The confessions of the accused were the most comprehensive talks concerning terrorism ever heard in a German court of law.

'They gave an exact description of what was going on in the terror training camps in Pakistan.'

Schneider also admitted trying to kill a policeman who he shot when officers moved in to break up the cell in September 2007.

The U.S. Air Force base at Ramstein, as well as discos, restaurants and nightclubs used by service personnel in the area were written down as potential targets.


In what was described as the biggest surveillance operation in Germany post-war history, police found the three suspects as they were preparing 730 litres of what they thought was hydrogen peroxide liquid.

It would have created around 410kg of explosives - 100 times the amount used in 2005 tube bombings.

German authorities have collected valuable intelligence into the workings of the IJU, which has ties to Al-Qaeda.

Federal prosecutor Rainer Griesbaum said: 'We now know how recruitment works, how people are smuggled into the Afghan-Pakistani border region and how the training takes place.'

Gelowicz, Schneider and Selek told the court their actions had been a 'mistake'.


Yilmaz also confessed, but declined to address the judges before sentencing.


Scheider, 24, told the court: 'I could have and should have acted differently.'


He said he would accept responsibility for his actions and that he hoped to complete a university degree in jail.

Germany's intelligence agencies believe that the risk of a terror attack in the country remains high. It has 4,500 troops currently in Afghanistan.

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