Four men who the German authorities say are senior members of Hamas were arrested on Thursday on charges that they were making preparations to attack Jewish institutions in Europe, German officials said.
Three of the men were taken into custody in Berlin and another was arrested by Dutch police in the port city of Rotterdam, Marco Buschmann, Germany’s justice minister, said in a statement.
The German federal prosecutor’s office said the four men were longstanding members of Hamas with ties to its military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, and that they have been active in the group’s “foreign operations.” Hamas controls the Gaza Strip and carried out attacks on Israel on Oct. 7 in which 1,200 people were killed, igniting a war with Israel.
Prosecutors gave few details of the alleged plot. They said the men had been ordered by Hamas leaders in Lebanon to bring weapons to the German capital, where they could be used to attack the Jewish community in Europe. It was unclear whether the men had smuggled weapons into Berlin or not.
The authorities also said the men were tracked in October 2023 as they searched for weapons that Hamas operatives had stored in an underground cache in Europe some time ago. It is not immediately clear if the men ever found the cache.
The three men arrested in Berlin include a citizen of Egypt, identified by authorities only as Mohamed B., and two men born in Lebanon, identified as Abdelhamid Al A. and Ibrahim El R., prosecutors said. The man arrested in the Netherlands was a Dutch citizen, whose name was given only as Nazih R.
Lawyers for the three men could not immediately be reached. The three men arrested in Germany were scheduled to appear before a judge on Friday.
“The arrest of four suspected members of the terrorist organization Hamas shows that our security authorities are extremely vigilant and act consistently,” Nancy Faeser, Germany’s interior minister who is responsible for national security, said in a statement. “We have the Islamist scene in our sights.”