DThree young people from North Rhine-Westphalia aged 15 and 16 and another 16-year-old from Baden-Württemberg are in custody on suspicion of terrorism. At the request of the Central Office for the Prosecution of Terrorism (ZenTer NRW), arrest warrants were issued against the three young people from North Rhine-Westphalia on the Easter weekend, as the Düsseldorf Public Prosecutor's Office announced on Friday. The accused are strongly suspected of having planned jihadist-motivated terrorist attacks with knives and Molotov cocktails on Christians in churches and police officers in guard stations in the name of the terrorist organization “Islamic State” (IS). The “Bild” newspaper first reported on the case.

As the FAZ learned from security circles, there are said to have been no concrete attack plans yet, but the investigators definitely saw a danger. State security in Hagen first became aware of the suspicious teenagers. During investigations against Albina A. from Iserlohn in the Sauerland region, the Hagen state security officers reportedly found that the 16-year-old girl was in close contact with other girls who acted as eager IS supporters in chats.

Wiam S, a dual German-Moroccan citizen, particularly came into focus. What made the investigators nervous was the fact that the girl's father had come into the police's focus several times in recent years. He was investigated a few years ago because he was suspected of having raised donations for IS and because a pistol was found on him. On March 28th, a search warrant was issued for the apartment in Düsseldorf where Wiam S. lives with her parents. During the search, the police confiscated, among other things, the young people's cell phone, which contained chats in which the group of teenagers wrote about attacks.

A German teenager is apparently the driving force

The investigators were alarmed that the other chat members, who had not yet been identified, continued to communicate about possible terrorist attacks even after Wiam S. and Albina H. were arrested and their thoughts became more and more concrete. The investigators finally managed to identify 15-year-old German citizen Julius S. from the Soest district. The student, who was previously completely unknown to the authorities, was “the driving force” in the terror planning, as security circles said. Shortly afterwards, the investigators also found out the identity of the fourth teenager suspected of terrorism: Yusa P. from Baden-Württemberg. The two boys were also taken into custody.

The case once again makes it clear how quickly young people sometimes become radicalized in chat groups and plan attacks, according to the North Rhine-Westphalian Interior Ministry. Apparently that's why Interior Minister Herbert Reul (CDU) wanted to make a statement in the early afternoon.

There have been several similar cases in North Rhine-Westphalia and beyond in the recent past. At the end of November, a 15-year-old German-Afghan dual citizen and a 16-year-old Russian citizen were arrested in Burscheid near Leverkusen and in Wittstock/Dosse in Brandenburg. After an attack on a Christmas market in the name of the terrorist group “Islamic State Khorasan Province” (ISPK), they had agreed to travel to Afghanistan together to join the ISPK there. In 2021, a 16-year-old Syrian refugee was arrested who was radicalized by an IS chat group and planned an attack on the synagogue in Hagen.