An attempted Islamist terrorist attack on a German synagogue on Yom Kippur has reportedly been thwarted.
Services in Hagen Synagogue in North Rhine-Westphalia were called off on Wednesday after “very serious and concrete information” was received by German officials, according to the Interior Minister of the country’s most populous State.
The information was reportedly received from a foreign intelligence service, rumoured to be Israel.
A sixteen-year-old Syrian national who lives in the city was detained yesterday morning, with three other people arrested in a raid on an apartment in connection with the incident.
According to Der Spiegel, the teenager mentioned in an online chat that he was planning an attack on a synagogue using explosives, which led investigators to the boy, who lives with his father in Hagen.
Police cordoned off the synagogue for the Kol Nidrei service on Wednesday night and sniffer dogs were deployed, although no dangerous objects were found in or around the synagogue. The investigation is ongoing.
Armin Laschet, the State Premier, said that “It appears that prior to today on Yom Kippur, an Islamist-motivated attack was averted,” adding: “We will do everything we can to clarify which networks may have been behind” the plot. Mr Laschet is running to succeed Angela Merkel as Chancellor of Germany.
German Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht said: “It is intolerable that Jews are again exposed to such a horrible threat and that they cannot celebrate the start of their highest holiday, Yom Kippur, together.”
The incident comes two years after a neo-Nazi attack on Yom Kippur targeted a synagogue in Halle. Although the synagogue’s security door thwarted that attack, the perpetrator, Stephan Balliet, went on to murder a passer-by and the patron of a nearby kebab shop before being arrested following a firefight with police. Last December Mr Balliet was given a life sentence.
Earlier this year, the Muslim-owned kebab restaurant in Halle that was targeted in the attack was saved from bankruptcy by a fundraising campaign led by the Jewish community.
Germany has seen a spate of Islamist terrorist attacks in recent years.