The Fourth Man: Suspect in German Bomb Plot Tells His Story

By Holger Stark in Konya, Turkey

Investigators believe Attila Selek is part of a cell of Islamist terrorists led by Fritz Gelowicz, who allegedly plotted to bomb US Army bases in Germany. But Selek, who was arrested last week in Turkey at the end of an interview with SPIEGEL, insists he is innocent.

Attila Selek, 22, was arrested by Turkish police in Konya on Tuesday Nov. 6 in connection with a foiled terror plot in Germany.
AP

Attila Selek, 22, was arrested by Turkish police in Konya on Tuesday Nov. 6 in connection with a foiled terror plot in Germany.

It is shortly after noon on Tuesday Nov. 6 when two men wearing leather jackets emerge from the shadows in the shopping center in Konya. "Attila Selek?" they ask.

Not bothering to wait for a response, the men grab Selek tightly by both arms. Suddenly police officers converge on the scene from all sides. The two men hold down Selek's head and force him onto the back seat of a waiting silver-gray Renault Clio.

"I am innocent!" he calls out, just as the door of the police car is about to close. Selek has now become the fourth person taken into custody in connection with a Germany-based Islamist terror cell.

Attila Selek had recognized the two men the minute he walked into the lobby of the Hotel Dedeman in Konya, a city in Turkey's Anatolian highlands, shortly before 10 a.m. that day.

The two men in dark leather jackets are police officers who had been following him for weeks. They were here in the hotel too, watching Selek as he entered the elegant lobby.

The men then followed Selek through the lobby and across the street to a shopping center. There, Selek went into a café called "Willy Wonder's" and ordered a coffee and a small jug of milk.

Selek had agreed to meet SPIEGEL in Konya because he wanted to tell his side of the story. And he certainly had a lot of explaining to do: about his alleged involvement in terrorist activities, his friendship with German Islamist Fritz Gelowicz and the apparent plans for terrorist attacks on German soil which authorities uncovered in early September.

More German Than Turkish

When the people in Konya hear Selek speak, they know right away that he didn't grow up in their native Anatolia, but in the southern German city of Ulm. "I'm more of a German," he says, smiling. "My Turkish culture is quite different from the reality in Turkey."

Nevertheless, he is known here. His name was even recently announced on Turkish television: Attila Selek, the man from Germany who is under surveillance. The terror suspect.

According to federal prosecutors in the southwestern German city of Karlsruhe, Selek is the fourth member of a cell of Islamist terrorists led by a man named Fritz Gelowicz. Authorities believe the group was in the process of making several car bombs that would have contained hundreds of kilograms of explosives. When police raided a vacation home in the central Sauerland region, they found chemicals and 26 military detonators, thought to have come from Syria. Selek's job within the group, investigators believe, was to obtain the detonators for the explosive devices.

The case, which investigators dubbed "Operation Alberich", gripped Germany in early September. The general public associates the case with the faces of two German converts to Islam, Fritz Gelowicz and Daniel S., which were plastered on the front pages of the country's newspapers. But the name at the center of the police investigation is Selek's.

The case began in November 2006 when the CIA asked German intelligence officials for assistance in identifying a man the US intelligence agency knew lived in Germany and went by the name "Muaz."

The three terror suspects were arrested in Germany in September. Two of them are German converts to Islam.
DPA

The three terror suspects were arrested in Germany in September. Two of them are German converts to Islam.

Agents from the CIA and the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Germany's domestic intelligence agency, have been trying to assemble the pieces of a puzzle consisting of recorded phone conversations, intercepted emails, eyewitness accounts from the wilds of the Pakistani region of Waziristan and travel records. Some of their information also comes from interrogations of suspects who had been in Pakistani training camps.

According to what the agents were able to piece together, "Muaz" and another man from Germany were supposedly in one of these camps in June 2006, a camp run by a sinister group known as the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU). According to law enforcement authorities, the IJU is a terrorist organization loosely affiliated with Al-Qaida that has made its way from Uzbekistan to Pakistan.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, one of the characteristics of the war against terrorism has been that many clues are found in the dense fog enshrouding the world of intelligence services. It is a fog that rarely lifts, not even in German courtrooms, and judges and prosecutors must simply accept that it is sometimes impossible to prove charges central to a case.

"We now know that the Americans use torture," says Selek. "So who can verify what part of this information is true and what part is false?" He also insists that he was never in a training camp, and that he is not the man known as "Muaz."

But at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, as well as at the premises of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution in Cologne and Stuttgart, the pieces of the puzzle revealed a different picture shortly before Christmas 2006.

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