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News 29 Jun 17

Romania Detains Suspected Islamic State Militant

A 39-year-old Romanian citizen has been detained for allegedly planning a terrorist attack on a US military base and for links with a group that staged the Paris attacks in November 2015. 

Ana Maria Touma BIRN Bucharest

Romanian prosecutors on Thursday detained a 39-year-old man suspected of links with the Islamist radicals who orchestrated the November 13, 2015 suicide bombings and mass shootings in Paris that killed 130 and wounded 368.

The man is suspected of spying on a military base in Romania and of sending information to jihadist militants of Islamic State, IS, in order to plan an attack at the base, prosecutors said on Thursday.

“The data was collected by the suspect with the purpose to be sent or made available to a Salafist or pro-jihadist terrorist entity in a European Union state, a group whose adepts have travelled to Syria and Iraq to participate in jihad activities and who were connected with the individuals who claimed the Paris attacks on November 13 2015,” the prosecutors said.

In a first case of its kind for Romania, the man was detained in Arges County, southern Romania, after the prosecutors searched his home. He had been under surveillance since 2015, according to the Romanian Intelligence Service SRI.

According to the press release of the prosecutors the man who called himself “Ibrahim” was a Romanian citizen who had been radicalized in a French prison where he was detained for a petty crime committed in France, where he worked for a while.

The prosecutors say he faces charges of supporting a terrorist group, links to the November 2015 attacks in Paris, but also for extremist Islamist propaganda on social media, where he shared footage and images of attacks perpetrated by the Islamic State militants.

The press release said that starting November 2016, the man used several social media accounts where he distributed photos and recordings of attacks committed by Islamic State, executions and beheadings “in order to attract new adepts able to commit similar acts”.

In spring 2015, the suspect allegedly went on a reconnaissance mission at a US military base in Romania and documented access points and possible security vulnerabilities.

SRI spokesman Ovidiu Marincea told journalists that the man attempted to travel to Syria to join IS and tried to convince other people to join him.

It is the first case in which a Romanian citizen allegedly planned an attack on Romanian territory in the name of an Islamist extremist organization.

Romanian authorities have handled other terrorism-linked cases in recent years, however.

In 2016, the Bucharest Court of Appeal jailed an Iraqi Al Qaeda member for seven years for facilitating the illegal passage through Romania of 250 Iraqis wanted by international law enforcement organizations for terrorist acts perpetrated in the name of Al Qaeda.

In February 2017, a 21-year-old Romanian citizen who lived in Germany was arrested in Frankfurt on terrorism charges. He was suspected of participating in planning a terrorist attack in Germany, according to Karlsruhe prosecutors.

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Background

Western Balkans on Alert Over ISIS Threat

Countries in the region have raised security levels and introduced new precautions to counter the threat of terrorist attacks by Islamic State.

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