People stand in front of a giant eight- branched candelabrum Menorah in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on December 6, 2015 at the start of the holiday of the jewish religious festival of lights Hanukkah..
(photo credit: AFP PHOTO / DPA / JÖRG CARSTENSEN GERMANY OUT)
charged two men, both of whom are believed to have been inspired by Islamic State, with planning an attack on Israel’s embassy or another Israeli institution between December 2014 and July 2015, Tobiah Kaehni a spokesman for Berlin’s Criminal Court told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
Both men are Berlin-born and of Palestinian background.
The prosecution in Berlin opened its case on Tuesday against Mohamed El-N. and Ali El-I., both of whom are 21-years-old. The men are charged with “planning a massive act of violence.”
The Federal Republic declines to provide last names of criminal defendants to protect their privacy rights.
Islamic State was a model for Ali El-I, according to Kaehni. He added that both men were inspired by Internet stories [about Islamic State]. The men are not known to have had direct contact with the Middle East or with Salafist circles in Berlin.
“We wanted to experience something incredible,” said one of the defendants in court, according to the Berliner Morgenpost daily paper.
He dismissed the idea as foolishness and denied organizing a terrorist plan.
One of the men said he considered committing the act of terrorism because he wanted “to show off.”
Kaehni said the men claimed that they assembled the explosives for fun. Ali El-I was the leader of the plot, added Kaehni.
“I noticed that he [Ali] had radical ideas” and wanted to convince me to follow Islamic State, said Mohamed.
According to the criminal complaint, both men assembled munitions similar to those used in terrorist attacks in Tunisia
. The planned attack by the suspected terrorists was not limited to Israeli institutions. The men allegedly sought to bomb a synagogue. The name of the synagogue was not released.
Ali El-I approved of Islamic State terrorist attacks and was fascinated by Islamic State’s terrorism in Tunisia in June at a resort hotel. The authorities discovered Islamic State propaganda on Ali EL-I’s mobile telephone. According to the state prosecutor, Al EL-I was determined to detonate explosives targeting Israel’s embassy or another Israeli institution.
Kaehni said that witnesses who saw the explosives and learned about the bombs that the pair planned to use reported the plan to the police.
The authorities arrested both men in July. Prior to their incarceration, both men resided in a homeless facility for youths in the Wedding district of Berlin.
The men purchased illegal explosives and 14 pistol cartridges, as well as bomb-making chemicals.
The explosives, according to the criminal court spokesman, were not found. The men also possessed a range of knives and baseball bats.
According to a report in the Berliner Zeitung newspaper, a chemical expert from Berlin’s criminal agency secured potassium perchlorate, which is used in pyrotechnics.
Mohamed is a German citizen and Ali EL-I is stateless. The men were 20 years old when they were arrested. According to Kaehni, they could be charged as adults or adolescents. The age of adulthood for criminal offenses is 21 in Germany.
The defendants could face a ten-year prison term if convicted as adults.
The criminal trial is expected to run until January 14. An additional five hearing days are slated for the trial. The next hearing session is scheduled for Friday.
In an email to the Post on Wednesday, the Israeli embassy wrote: “We fully trust the local authorities to deal with any legal and security matters.”