Europe

Germany arrests 3 over hard-line Syria group ties

BERLIN (AP) — German authorities arrested three people in raids Monday against suspected supporters of a hard-line Islamic group in Syria, a move meant to curb the possible risks posed by extremists returning from Syria's civil war.

Federal prosecutors said 10 apartments in Berlin, Frankfurt and Bonn were searched. One person was arrested in each city; the apartments included those of another five people suspected of belonging to or supporting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, an al-Qaida breakaway group.

Those arrested include a 35-year-old German man identified only as Fatih K. in line with local privacy rules. He is accused of being a member of the Islamic State and another group between at least July to September last year, fighting with paramilitary units and helping produce propaganda.

Also in custody is a 26-year-old Turkish national identified as Fatih I., suspected of joining the Islamic State in Syria in September. After returning to Germany in January, he is believed to have been assigned to raise money for the group and apparently planned to return to Syria, prosecutors said in a statement.

The third person arrested, a 27-year-old woman with German-Polish dual nationality identified as Karolina R., is suspected of supporting the group by making payments totaling 4,800 euros ($6,600). The three face possible charges of membership of, or support for, a terrorist group.

Officials have worried for some time about the potential threat posed by radicalized German residents returning from Syria, and security agencies have stepped up their observation of those considered most dangerous — though they have said there's no evidence any are planning attacks.

"Today's measures show that conflicts such as the one in Syria have immediate effects on us in Germany," chief federal prosecutor Harald Range said. "We must act with determination against this development."

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