Plots to wage New Year's violence: ISIS suspected of planning suicide attack in Munich

German special police stand in front of the Munich, southern Germany, main train station. Photo / AP
German special police stand in front of the Munich, southern Germany, main train station. Photo / AP

• New York police arrest "jihadist" over alleged plot
• Munich police evacuate stations over credbile threat
• Brussels cancels celebrations amid fears

• Officials say police received intelligence ISIS had five to seven suicide bombers ready to self-detonate

German authorities have claimed Islamic State are behind a suspected terror plot intended for New Year's Eve in Munich.

Sky News reported that, at a news conference overnight, officials had said police received intelligence the terror group had "five to seven" suicide bombers ready to self-detonate on the countdown to the New Year.

According to the Guardian, Munich police president Hubertus Andrae a "foreign intelligence service" had alerted them to the jihadi group's plans.

Mr Andrae said no arrests had been made.

About 550 emergency personnel were on the streets overnight and the two train stations that had been evacuated were likely to reopen in the morning if all remained quiet.

Munich police have given the two stations that were evacuated the all clear.

In a tweet it announced the Central Station and the Pasing Station were now open.

"We will remain on-site and keep our eyes open."

Earlier, suspected plots to wage New Year's Eve violence led to an arrest in New York state, raids in Belgium and warnings in Munich, as security agencies around the world imposed extraordinary measures amid heightened fears following attacks in Paris and California.

Around the world, authorities expanded patrols, blocked off several traditional celebration spots and had security teams operating at some of the highest threat levels.

In Munich police warned of the "serious, imminent threat" of a terror attack on New Year's Eve and asked people to stay away from the city's main train station and a second train station in the city's Pasing neighborhood.

Police spokesman Werner Kraus told Associated Press: "We have serious information and different tips about an imminent attack."

Policemen outside Allianz Arena in Munich. Photo / Getty Images
Policemen outside Allianz Arena in Munich. Photo / Getty Images

"After evaluating the situation, we started evacuating the train stations and also asked partygoers to stay away from big crowds outside."

The warning came about an hour before the city rang in the new year. Despite the police statement, thousands of people were on the streets of Munich at midnight to welcome the new year with fireworks.

Kraus said police could not elaborate on the nature of the threat or who had tipped them off.

German news agency dpa reported that both train stations were quickly evacuated and that trains were no longer stopping there.

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The warnings were announced by the police on both its Twitter and Facebook pages and came as revellers were gathering to see in 2016.

A statement read: "We have concrete evidence that we cannot sweep under the carpet. Based on information available and evaluated by us as credible."


CNN correspondent Frederik Pleitgen said Munich Police certainly were not taking any chances when it came to public safety.

"Police from reading these statements are taking this situation, very, very seriously and being strong in their warnings, really urging people to stay away from crowds and also stay away from these railway stations."


Talking on Newstalk ZB this afternoon security analyst Paul Buchanan said given Germans were typically not quick to jump the gun it was likely the threat in Munich was real.

"My understanding is that the Germans tend to wait, because they do want to have ample evidence to put people away for a long time," he said.

"So if they say that they had concrete evidence...then I would imagine the perpetrators were well on their way to committing this planned attack at the moment that the authorities stepped in".

He said the police response had likely closed the terrorists' window of opportunity for an attack.

"They [the terrorists] know as much as I know, that if the authorities come out with these warnings then their cover has been exposed."

While Mr Buchanan said it was possible they would look to an alternative site of attack, as Germany passed midnight, it was looking less likely.

"The good thing was they were planned for New Years," he said. "People have dispersed...they are not going to find the numbers they would have had prior to midnight."

Mr Buchanan said a "manhunt" was likely to follow in the hours and days to come.

"If they can get their hands on two or more of the perpetrators then they might be able to break down some aspects of the network...that network could well extend back into Belgium."

Despite the growing concerns around terrorism in Europe he said it was unlikely to reach the same level of risk here

"The trouble is that the jihadis have relatively limited numbers to commit atrocities outside of the Middle East, we are very far away and there are much larger targets and easier targets for them in Europe, North America and even Australia.

He said while our profile might increase on their radar if the New Zealand Government sent more troops there were larger, easier targets.

"I don't think we have any more to fear than we do now."

In western New York, the US Justice Department said a 25-year-old man, Emanuel Lutchman, was arrested after allegedly planning to attack a restaurant in Rochester, New York, in coordination with an Islamic State member in Syria contacted online.

Lutchman, described as a self-professed Muslim convert, apparently planned to use knives and similar weapons for the assault, according to a Justice Department criminal complaint made public Thursday.

Lutchman, who was arrested a day earlier, has a criminal record dating back nearly a decade, and served about five years in prison for robbery, federal officials said.

Suicide bombings

In at least two capitals - Turkey's Ankara and Belgium's Brussels - officials also said they had disrupted plots to strike at New Year's celebrations that stretch into Friday.

Turkish authorities said their festivities would go ahead as planned, despite detaining two suspected Islamic State militants believed to be planning suicide bombings. But Brussels Mayor Yvan Mayeur announced that the city had decided to cancel its fireworks celebrations due to a continuing threat.

Hours later, police carried out sweeps across the Belgian capital and a suburb. The operation was an apparent follow-up after two suspects were arrested Tuesday in connection with an alleged plan to carry out bombings during the year-end festivities. At least six additional suspects were taken into custody, police said, also noting that computers and mobile phones were seized.

Officials gave no other immediate details on the latest suspects, but the two arrested earlier in the week were part of a motorbike group known as the Kamikaze Riders, whose members are mostly of North African origin and carry out stunts.

Belgium has been on its highest alert level since the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, whose presumed mastermind, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was Belgian and was raised in the hardscrabble Molenbeek district of Brussels.

A fireworks show also was called off in Paris, though there will be a video display at the Arc de Triomphe that Mayor Anne Hidalgo said would send a message: "Paris is standing, proud of its lifestyle and living together."

Fireworks displays were due to go ahead in other European cities, but with a much heavier security presence than usual. Vienna police had said that several European cities had been warned of a possible New Year's Eve attack, and that revelers in the Austrian capital would face tighter checks.

Thousands of police were deployed in central London, though Mayor Boris Johnson said revelers should not be deterred. "Get out there and soak up the best we have to offer," he said.

Critical response

Authorities in Russia and China announced that high-profile gathering places - including Moscow's Red Square - would be closed for the evening. In India, local news agencies reported a possible New Year's Eve threat to the country's parliament building.

The precautions reflected a world rattled by the November attacks in Paris, which left 130 people dead, as well as the December killing of 14 people at an office party in San Bernardino, Calif. The Paris attacks are believed to have been directed by the Islamic State, while the group has claimed it inspired the couple behind the California killings.

In New York, security was expected to be at its highest levels since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. More than 5000 officers will be on patrol around the city, including a large contingent of specially trained counterterrorism officers who were activated this year. The contingent, known as the critical response command, will be armed with long rifles such as M4 carbines - a first for the city's New Year's Eve celebrations.

"There will be a tremendous number of officers that you will see, there will be many officers you won't see," said New York Mayor Bill De Blasio at a press conference this week.

In addition to helicopter surveillance, traffic officers and canine units, officers would be sweeping New York sites with chemical and radiation detectors.

In Washington, officials said there would be additional police at popular gathering spots and on the Metro.

Hugh Carew, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police Department, said there were "no, new credible threats to the District of Columbia." But he noted that DC "is often mentioned in propaganda from those that wish to do harm."

A security emphasis will be placed on the system's busiest stations and popular nightlife spots, said Metro spokesman Dan Stessel.

"All of those stations will have robust police coverage," Stessel said.

In Pasadena, California. the annual Rose Bowl Parade will have more than two dozen law enforcement agencies providing security for the 700,000 spectators expected to attend.

Deadly stampede

Indian news agencies reported that the country's parliament and prime minister, Narendra Modi, could be targeted in attacks. Security was strengthened across the capital, New Delhi. The reports specifically cited a threat from the outlawed terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Late Tuesday, Indian security forces evacuated large number of people from the capital's malls and marketplaces, and conducted drills.

Chinese officials, meanwhile, decided not to go ahead with riverfront celebrations in Shanghai - but apparently for reasons of crowd management, not terrorism fears.

It's the second year running that the festivities have been cancelled, and it comes after a stampede killed 36 people and injured 49 as 300,000 revelers gathered for a fireworks and laser display by the Huangpu River on the final day of 2013.

In Beijing, a New Year's Eve countdown was cancelled at the China Millennium Monument.

Meanwhile, the Place, a popular shopping mall with the biggest LED ceiling screen in Beijing, also announced that the mall will close at its usual business hour Thursday, with no New Year's Eve celebration organized.

Because of limited space, the New Year's Eve countdown ceremony in Beijing's Imperial Ancestral Temple was only be open to people with tickets, Legal Evening Daily reported, adding that Beijing citizens and tourists can watch the celebrations on TV or via live streaming on the Internet.

- Additional reporting: Corazon Miller

- Washington Post

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