German authorities have charged two men inspired by Islamic State with “planning a massive act of violence” on the Israeli embassy or other Israeli targets in Berlin, according to media reports on Wednesday.
The two men, German-born but of Palestinian descent, were actively planning an attack between December 2014 and July 2015, Tobiah Kaehni, a spokesman for Berlin’s Criminal Court, told The Jerusalem Post.
The accused, Mohamed El-N and Ali El-I (German law does not permit identifying suspects), both 21, were reportedly inspired by internet stories about Islamic State. However, they had no contact with any terrorist groups in the Middle East or with Salafist circles in Berlin.
The defendants denied that they were seriously plotting such an attack.
“We wanted to experience something incredible,” said one of them in court, according to the Berliner MorgenPost daily paper. One of them mentioned “wanting to show off” as a motive for their activities.
According to the criminal complaint, they assembled munitions similar to those used in a terrorist attack in Tunisia last June at a resort hotel. The authorities described their bomb-making efforts as “amateurish” but dangerous.
Kaehni said that witnesses to their involvement with explosives contacted the police, who arrested the two men in July.
German authorities uncovered Islamic State propaganda on Ali EL-I’s cellphone.
The suspects could face a ten-year prison term if convicted as adults.
In a statement, the Israeli embassy said, “We fully trust in the local authorities to deal with any legal and security matters.”
An Israeli diplomatic source told Ynet that “it is best to take every threat seriously, even if in hindsight it turns out it wasn’t so grave, particularly at such a sensitive time.”