Czech police nab Iraqi couple over 2018 Germany rail sabotage

Published March 28, 2019, 11:30 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Agence France-Presse

Czech authorities said Thursday they had detained two Iraqi terror suspects, a man, and a woman, wanted by Austria over their role in 2018 attacks on trains in Germany.

The arrests followed Monday’s detention of a 42-year-old Iraqi in Vienna, also suspected in the case.

“Based on a European warrant issued by… Vienna… Czech police detained two foreigners shortly after their arrival at Vaclav Havel Airport in Prague,” Czech police said in a tweet.

Marketa Puci, the spokeswoman for the Municipal Court in Prague, said the court had received a custody request from prosecutors, on which it has to decide within 24 hours.

“The request concerns two Iraqi citizens, a man and a woman,” Puci told AFP.

Also on Thursday, Austrian Interior Minister Herbert Kickl said in parliament that the two suspects “formed a cell” together with the man detained Monday.

The detained are suspected of having strung a steel rope across the tracks between the southern German cities of Munich and Nuremberg, damaging the front window of a train in October last year.

A similar case occurred in December last year near Berlin when an overhead electrical line was damaged. No one was injured in either incident.

Vienna prosecutors said a technical error prevented casualties, adding that writings in Arabic and an Islamic State (IS) flag near the crime scenes established a suspected “terrorist” motive.

The man detained in Vienna has admitted involvement in both incidents but denied any terrorist motive for the crimes, which would carry a maximum life-long prison sentence.

Austrian and German authorities worked together leading to Monday’s arrest, according to criminal investigators in Germany’s southern state of Bavaria.

Austrian media reported the detained Iraqi father of five was working at a security company with access to football stadiums.

Germany is on alert following several jihadist attacks in recent years.

The most deadly was committed in 2016 by 23-year-old Tunisian Anis Amri, who killed 12 people when he stole a truck and plowed it into a Berlin Christmas market.