A Syrian refugee arrested in Germany on Monday was ready to strike imminently with attacks similar to those in Brussels and Paris, and the suspect was probably inspired by the Islamic State militant group, investigators said.
Jaber Albakr, 22, arrived in Germany in February last year during a migrant influx into the country and was granted temporary asylum in June 2015. Officials said he had not previously aroused suspicion.
Speaking during a news conference after talks in Niger’s capital Niamey, Merkel lauded German police for the arrest and hinted her government could tighten security laws. “We have to do everything possible, also if necessary change the laws in order to ensure safety of the people in Germany,” she said.
Police had been looking for the Syrian suspect since he evaded them during a raid on Saturday on an apartment in the eastern German city of Chemnitz, where they found 1.5 kg of highly-charged explosives.
They arrested him after acting on a tip-off that other Syrians were holding him at an apartment in Leipzig, around 60 kilometers (37 miles) northwest of Chemnitz.
“According to what we know, the preparations in Chemnitz are similar to the preparations for the attacks in Paris and Brussels,” federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said.
Michaelis said the explosives found in the Chemnitz flat were similar to those used in the Paris and Brussels attacks.
Police identified a second suspect as 33-year-old Khalil A., who was also from Syria and entered Germany in November last year. He was arrested at Chemnitz train station on Saturday and has been remanded in custody.