SPIEGEL ONLINE has learned that German authorities have identified the second suspect involved in last month's failed plot to bomb trains. He is believed to be 20 years old and from Lebanon, like the first suspect, a 21-year-old student, who was arrested last Saturday.
The Federal Prosecution Office did not offer details on the status of the investigation. Separately, media reports said that an attempt to arrest him last night failed because he had fled abroad shortly before police mounted a raid. Police in Cologne, where he has been living, also declined to comment.
On Monday night, the head of the Federal Criminal Police Office, Jörg Ziercke, had told German television he was "optimistic that we'll have a quick success here." The suspect may be planning another attack, Ziercke said. "Until we find him the danger persists."
Ziercke said police were pursuing many leads in Germany, Lebanon and a number of European countries. He added that despite the risk of terror attacks, he did not think Germany needed to deploy as many security cameras as are used in Britain, where entire city centers are scanned.
"I think in an open society you can't have total video surveillance. And I don't think we want to follow the British example of such widespread video surveillance," said Ziercke.
Security camera footage helped police to arrest Lebanese student Youssef Mohamad E. over the weekend. He and the second suspect had been filmed carrying large bags onto a platform at Cologne's central train station on July 31. They placed them on two regional trains, but the crudely made bombs consisting of gas cylinders failed to explode.
German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said fears of a possible terror attack were "unfortunately very real." He added that the motive of the two attackers remained unclear. However, a resident of the student dormitory where Youssef Mohamad resided in Kiel told SPIEGEL ONLINE the student had told residents that his brother, a member of the Lebanese army, had been killed in an Israeli airstrike on the Beirut Airport.
Youssef Mohamad E., who has been an engineering student in the northern city of Kiel where he was arrested, had links with Hizb ut-Tahir (Party of Liberation), an Islamic and anti-Israeli party, the Berlin newspaper Der Tagesspiegel reported, citing unnamed German security sources. The party was banned in Germany in 2003 because it was deemed anti-Semitic.
Security sources said several members of the arrested man's family were "problematic." They said it was feasible that Hizb ut-Tahrir or party supporters among his family instilled radical views in him.
A neighbor in the Kiel student apartment he had been living in described him as strictly religious and said he was often visited by fellow Muslims. They would pray in the cellar. Fellow residents said Youssef had seemed immature for his age. "He's still a child really. He likes to play," said one.
German authorities got a tip-off about Youssef from Lebanon's military intelligence service on Friday after they published the video footage of the two suspects. Media reports said members of his family in Lebanon had had their telephones tapped because of suspected links with militant Islamists. Youssef Mohamad E. allegedly telephoned his family after his image had been released by police.
However, authorities don't believe Youssef's family was involved in the failed bomb plot in Germany or that Shiite group Hezbollah was involved, media reports said.
With reporting by Alexander Schwabe and Brenda Strohmaier