Two men who German authorities say were inspired by ISIS went on trial Tuesday for allegedly plotting to blow up Israel’s embassy in Berlin.
The 21-year-old suspects, one a stateless Palestinian and the other a German citizen of Palestinian origin, sought to detonate “the explosives for an attack on Israel’s embassy or other Israeli institutions,” according to prosecutors. Islamic State videos were allegedly found on the mobile telephone of one.
A spokesman for Berlin’s state prosecutor told FoxNews.com on Wednesday the men were charged with “preparing a massive violent attack with explosives.”
The court process will determine if the men were members of a terrorist association—Germany’s legal standard for a conviction based on terrorist activity. However, the spokesman for the prosecutor’s office said the men appeared to have been “self-radicalized with the goal of effectuating jihadi ideology.”
“We wanted to experience something incredible,” said one of the defendants in court, according to the Berliner Morgenpost daily paper. He dismissed the terror plan as foolishness and denied organizing a terrorism plan. One of the men said he could have committed the act of terrorism “because of wanting to show off.”
Tobiah Kaehni a spokesman for Berlin's Criminal Court, told FoxNews.com that witnesses, including a German with a Muslim name, observed the explosives –or heard about the bombs—that the men planned to use in a terror attack.
The witnesses or witness reported the plan to the police, who arrested both men in July. The men purchased illegal fireworks explosives and 14 starting pistol cartridges, as well as bomb-making chemicals. The explosives, according to the criminal court spokesman, were not found. The men possessed illegal knives and baseball bats.
The defendants could face a 10-year prison term if convicted as adults. Germany, however, has a long-record of meting out lenient penalties to criminals who have attacked Jewish institutions.
A German court in the city of Wuppertal convicted two German Palestinians in February of an arson attack on a synagogue but denied the crime was motivated by anti-Semitism. The court’s decision justified the mild penalty because the goal of the attack was to bring “attention to the Gaza conflict.” Those men, ages 24 and 29, got suspended prison terms of one year and three months.
The Berlin criminal trial is expected to run until January, 14. An additional 5 hearing days are slated for the trial. The next hearing session is slated for Friday. In an email to FoxNews.Com on Wednesday, the Israeli embassy in Berlin wrote: “We fully trust the local authorities to deal with any legal and security matters."
Benjamin Weinthal reports on European terrorism and the Middle East. He is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow Benjamin on Twitter@BenWeinthal