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Police are investigating two Tunisian men suspected of plotting to carry out terrorist attacks via model airplanes; raids were carried out in Belgium and in the German states of Bavaria, Baden-Wurttemberg, and Saxony. Police also searched the apartments of four suspected accomplices in Munich and Stuttgart who are believed to have "provided financing for the militant jihad." Some of the suspects are aerospace engineering students at the University of Stuttgart, where they learn to program model planes for specific flight routes.
The Foreign Ministry said Germany would stick to its position of not providing weapons to a country in a civil war, despite the US decision to step up arms to Syrian rebels in the wake of confirmation that the Assad regime had used chemical weapons. Germany has been providing bulletproof vests and first aid supplies to the Free Syrian Army.
The annual report of Germany's domestic intelligence agency noted that the number of Islamists surged last year; membership in Milli Görüs, the largest Islamist organization in the country, or Hezbollah in Germany, rose to 42,550 in 2012 from 38,080 in 2011, and the number of Salafists rose to 4,500 from 3,800 during the same time period. On the other hand, membership in the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) declined to 6,000.
Although the head of Germany's federal police, the BKA, had warned of a possible bombing by several Islamist terrorists against the 2013 soccer championship final in Berlin on May 25, the event went off smoothly. Increased security measures had been implemented in Berlin at the event and at other locations across the country.
A Somali man was arrested at a refugee center in Giessen and is accused of acting as a bookkeeper for pirates who hijacked the tanker Marida Marguerite in May 2010 and held the crew for six months until a multimillion-dollar ransom was paid. Last year another Somali involved in the Marida Margerite hijacking, Mohammad Saaili Shibin, was sentenced by a US court to life in prison for hijacking a yacht and killing the four Americans on board in 2009.
The Interior Minister said the government is aware that known jihadists have traveled to Syria to fight with the rebels, and that there have been calls for European fighters to return home for jihad; he said Germany is following the development with "great concern." German officials believe that German jihadists, including Reda Seyam, are assisting with fundraising for Islamist fighters in Syria.
Germany announced a plan to keep as many as 800 military trainers in Afghanistan after the NATO withdrawal in 2014. The plan calls for reducing the number of German soldiers in the country to about 300 by 2017.