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The two-day manhunt, spectacular arrest and shocking death of a Syrian terrorism suspect in Germany have attracted a lot of attention and raised a lot of questions.
On October 8, German police raided an apartment in the eastern city of Chemnitz after being tipped off by Germany’s domestic intelligence agency. They found 1.5 kilograms of TATP, the explosive of choice for ISIS terrorists, but the target of the raid, a 22-year-old Syrian refugee named Jaber al-Bakr, managed to escape.
Three alleged associates of al-Bakr were detained in connection with the raid, two of whom were later released. A 33-year-old Syrian refugee, identified only as Khalil A., remains in custody. Kahlil A. was renting the Chemnitz apartment where al-Bakr was staying. He is accused of allowing al-Bakr to use his apartment and of ordering bomb-making materials for him online. Security sources referred to the apartment as “a virtual bomb-making lab.”
After the botched raid on Saturday, German police immediately launched a nationwide manhunt for al-Bakr.
On Sunday evening, three Syrians contacted police in the city of Leipzig, about an hour’s drive from Chemnitz, and informed them that they had captured the wanted suspect.
36-year-old Syrian refugee Mohamed A. later told German media that he and two of his friends had picked up al-Bakr at Leipzig main station after he sent out a request via a Syrian refugee online network for a place to stay. When they noticed that a manhunt for al-Bakr was underway, they decided to tie him up and informed the police.
At 0:42 a.m. local time on Monday, special police forces entered the apartment in Leipzig and found the terrorism suspect tied up.
Mohamed A. and his friends were hailed as heroes by German politicians and media. Some politicians even called for awarding them the Federal Cross of Merit, Germany’s highest civilian honor.
Jaber al-Bakr, on the other hand, told investigators during his interrogation that the three Syrians from Leipzig were involved in the planning of the attack. A few hours later, the most important witness in the case was dead.