German police arrest men planning synagogue knife attack

German police arrested two men who were accused of allegedly planning a knife attack at a synagogue in the southwestern city of Heidelberg, the German news agency dpa reported on Friday.

The suspects, an 18-year-old and 24-year-old, allegedly discussed “the killing of one or more visitors in the attack on the synagogue followed by death as martyrs, whereby the two persons wanted to be shot to death by police,” authorities said in a statement.

The 18-year-old is being held on conspiracy to commit murder, public prosecutors and criminal investigators in the south-western German state of Baden-Wurttemberg announced on Friday. The suspect is originally from the town of Weinheim, and also has Turkish citizenship, according to ABC News, citing German authorities.

One man had been shot and captured in early May

The 24-year-old had been shot and captured earlier in May by police after a raid on the man’s apartment became violent. On May 3, police raided his home in the town of Bad Friedrichshall on suspicion of preparing a serious act of violence endangering the state, according to German news agency dpa. 

The 24-year-old suspect had taken several kitchen knifes and fled outside through a window while officers were in his apartment. When police caught him, he threw a life toward a policeman and charged at him. The officer then shot him. 

Soccer Football – Bundesliga 2 – Hertha BSC v Hansa Rostock – Olympiastadion, Berlin, Germany – April 12, 2024 Police officers are pictured at the Olympiastadion train station after the match. (credit: REUTERS/ANNEGRET HILSE)

The 24-year-old man was treated for his wounds and remains in police custody  on allegations of attempted manslaughter and a serious case of assault on a police officer. 

Following the raid of the 24-year-old’s home, police uncovered a link to the 18-year-old from Weinheim. Police say that the 24-year-old had discussed a possible knife attack on visitors to a synagogue in Heidelberg in April 24 with the 18-year-old.

The 18-year-old’s apartment was search and he was arrested and remains in custody. There is no additional threat to visitors to the synagogue at this time. 

German leaders have warned of a surge in antisemitism amid the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.