Tunisian arrested in Germany linked to Bardo Museum attack

According to officials the 36-year-old is suspected of recruiting for Islamic State in Germany since August 2015.

FILE: Tunisian security forces secure the area after gunmen attacked the Bardo Museum. Picture: AFP.

WIESBADEN/BERLIN - A Tunisian asylum-seeker arrested in Germany on Wednesday on suspicion of planning an attack was also wanted by Tunisia for his suspected involvement in the deadly militant assault against the Bardo Museum in Tunis, German authorities said.

The 36-year-old is suspected of recruiting for Islamic State in Germany since August 2015 and building up a network of supporters with the aim of carrying out a terrorist attack, the Frankfurt prosecutor’s office said in statement.

The arrest was part of a major operation in which more than 1,100 German police raided 54 premises including homes, businesses and mosques in Frankfurt and other towns in the western state of Hesse.

The man arrested on Wednesday had lived in Germany between 2003 and 2013 and then re-entered the country as an asylum seeker in August 2015, five months after militant gunmen stormed the Bardo Museum in Tunis and killed 21 foreign tourists.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is seeking re-election this year, has come under criticism for allowing more than a million asylum-seekers into the country over the past two years.

Frankfurt’s prosecutor general said the Tunisian was detained in August last year in relation to a 2008 sentence for bodily harm and had been in custody awaiting extradition to Tunisia, but his transfer fell through after the Tunisian authorities failed to send through the paperwork needed.

He was released in November and had been under surveillance since then, the prosecutor said.

Peter Beuth, interior minister of Hesse, said there had not been any immediate danger: “It was not about preventing an imminent attack - rather security forces in Hesse intervened early to protect citizens from the threat of harm.”