BERLIN (AP) — German state police were questioning a 17-year-old asylum-seeker Tuesday after a tactical unit took him into custody outside Berlin on suspicion that he was planning a suicide attack in the capital.
Police in the state of Brandenburg said the teenager was detained Tuesday in the village of Gerswalde, 100 kilometers (60 miles) northeast of Berlin, after they learned he had sent a farewell message to family members and told them that “he had joined the jihad,” or holy war.
The WhatsApp message talking about jihad to the suspect’s family was sent within the last week and Brandenburg authorities were told of it late Monday night by two other German states, Brandenburg police spokesman Torsten Herbst told The Associated Press.
He said police were investigating but so far “evidence of the planning of a concrete act has not yet been identified.”
The state Interior Ministry’s office identified the suspect as Syrian, but Herbst said investigators were checking to see whether he falsely registered as a Syrian but was actually from a North African country.
The teenager, whose name wasn’t released, came to Germany in 2015 as an unaccompanied minor and registered as an asylum-seeker. He has been living since 2016 in a home for minor refugees in Gerswalde, and was detained there in the Tuesday morning raid.
Herbst said the teenager was still being interrogated.
German security officials have repeatedly warned that the country is in the crosshairs of international terrorist groups.
Germany saw a number of violent attacks by Islamic extremists last year, including the deadly truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market that left 12 victims dead and dozens of others injured. The attack, carried out by a young Tunisian man who had been denied asylum in Germany, was later claimed by the Islamic State group.