German police have launched a major counter-terrorism operation in the western state of Hesse, raiding 54 locations in search of more than a dozen alleged supporters of the Islamic State group (ISIS), local officials say. (more)
The main suspect in the case is a 36-year-old Tunisian man who was arrested during a raid in Frankfurt at about 4 a.m. local time on Wednesday. He is accused of being an ISIS recruiter, smuggler and the founder of a local network of supporters.
The state's criminal police office said in a statement that the operation, which involved more than 1,100 police officers, targeted suspects between the ages of 16 and 46. It was not immediately clear whether all of them were arrested during the raids, which were carried out at homes, businesses, and mosques.
Investigators believe that the group was seeking to carry out a terrorist attack in Germany, but the plans are thought to have been in an early stage and no specific target had been chosen. Other details about the alleged plot were not immediately released.
Wednesday's searches were carried out in the cities of Frankfurt am Main, Offenbach am Main, Darmstadt, Limburg an der Lahn, and Wiesbaden. Additional raids were carried out in a number of locations in Offenbach district, Groß-Gerau district, Marburg-Biedenkopf district, and Main-Taunus district.
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