In an attempt to thwart a terror attack, German authorities raided a KLM airliner at Cologne-Bonn airport on Friday at 6.55am, German authorities said.
German police spokesman Frank Scheulen said they seized the two male terror suspects, a 23-year-old Somali and a 24-year-old German citizen of Somali origin.
The men had left suicide notes in their apartment saying they wanted to carry out “jihad” (or holy war), according to published reports. The KLM flight was bound for Amsterdam.
Police had boarded the plane when it was at its “point of departure” and grabbed the two suspects, a spokeswoman for KLM confirmed. All passengers were then asked to disembark from the plane, and there was a “baggage parade” to see whose bags belonged to whom, she added.
Citing police sources, Germany’s top-selling Bild newspaper reported that the two had been under observation for months.
The arrests came the day after officials said they were searching for Eric Breininger, 21, and Houssain Al Malla, 23. The two are believed have been training at a terrorist camp in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan and are linked to a group of terrorist suspects whose alleged plot to blow up American targets in Germany was foiled in 2007, federal prosecutors’ spokesman Frank Wallenta told reporters.
However, it is unclear at this point whether there was a link between Friday’s arrest and the search for Breininger and Al Malla. The two men had been under police observation for months and wanted to carry out “holy war.”
No further disruptions at Cologne Airport were reported, as authorities confirmed that there was no evacuation of the wider area.. The airport is operating normally, and there is no ongoing threat.