Germany: Islamic Jihad Union Claims Responsibility for Foiled Plot

The German Interior Ministry said Tuesday that the Islamic Jihad Union militant group has taken responsibility for planning last week's foiled terror bombings in Germany, adding that the U.S. air base at Ramstein was a target as well as U.S. and Uzbek consulates in Germany.

The ministry, which is responsible for police and internal security, said in a statement that the IJU made the announcement on the Internet and that government computer experts viewed it as genuine. Three men were arrested Sept. 4 on suspicion of planning massive bombings against U.S. and other facilities in Germany.

"In an Internet appearance, the Islamic Jihad Union has taken responsibility for the foiled attacks in Germany and addresses the arrests of Sept. 4, 2007," the ministry statement said. "The attacks planned according to this for the end of 2007 were directed against the U.S. air base at Ramstein as well as U.S. and Uzbek consular facilities in Germany."

The attacks were aimed at pressing Germany to close its air base in Termez, Uzbekistan, the statement said.

The Islamic Jihad Union is described by police and prosecutors as an offshoot of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, a militant group which had origins in that Central Asian country. The IJU has been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department; German prosecutors have said it is characterized by a "profound hatred of U.S. citizens."

According to the State Department, the group was responsible for coordinated bombings directed at the U.S. and Israeli embassies in July 2004 in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent. Members have been schooled in explosives by Al Qaeda instructors and the group has ties to Usama bin Laden and fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Omar.