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SAUERLAND CELL

Sauerland, the Saar Land in English, is located in mid West Germany in the South Eastern part of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

 On 09/04/2007 the German authorities arrested and uncovered an Islamic terror network that was plotting a series of terror attacks in Germany and in the middle of their last preparation to commit a massive car bombs attack on Ramstein military airbase, used by the USA and became known as the Ramstein Plot. The network was under surveillance from early 2006 and was known as the Sauerland group or Sauerland  Cell. The Sauerland  Cell was the most dangerous terror enterprise originated in Germany after and comprised from Muslims, many of them converts, who went through radicalization in Germany and targeted locations not abroad but inside the country.     

All together the group, led by the German covert Fritz Nartin Gelowicz and the German citizen from Turkish descent Tolga Durbin, was formed mainly from members and activists from the Multi Kultur Haus – MKH in Neu-Ulm, in the German state of Bavaria, and in the nearby Islamic Information Center –IZZ, in the town of Ulm, on the Western bank of the Danube but in the German state of Baden Wurttemberg, and were inspired by Dr. Yehia Yousif. It is likely that the Invasion to Iraq, in 03/2003 and the participation of German troops with NATO-ISAF in Afghanistan helped to radicalize some of the young Muslims in Germany.

In 2005 three friends from the Islamic Information Center –IZZ, Fritz Nartin Gelowicz, Adem Yilmaz and Attila Selek traveled together to the Hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. After the hajj  Adem Yilmaz and Attila Selek traveled to Damascus and enrolled in an Arabic course. The group planned on crossing the border into Iraq to fight the U.S. and her allies. Unable to find a handler for that endeavor the three tried to find a way to wage Jihad in Chechnya. But this plan also came to nothing. Finally, Adem Yilmaz made contact with a senior member of the Uzbek Islamic Jihad Union -IJU, Gofir Salimov aka Jafer, who is wanted in Uzbekistan since 2004 for several bombing attacks (see – July 2004 Attacks ). Gofir Salimov recruited the young German Salafists for the Uzbek group.

Less than a year later, around March 2006, Gelowicz and Yilmaz traveled via Iran to the group’s training camp by Mir Ali in FATA, North Waziristan, Pakistan. Shortly thereafter, Selek and the later fourth member of the Sauerland  Cell, Daniel Martin Schneider, arrived to the camp.

The fact that the trainees seemed to be of little value for the guerilla war against the USA and her allies may have contributed to the plan of then -IJU leader Najmiddin Jalolov to task the Germans with a bombing plot inside Europe. They soon decided that the operation could only be carried out in Germany, where they had sufficient contacts, a support network and first-hand knowledge of the country.

The Iranian-Kurdish Dana Boluri from the Islamist scene of the Ansar Mosque in Frankfurt-Riederwald, was introduced to the cell through Adem Yilmaz. On New Year’s Eve 2006 Boluri drove to Frankfurt’s main train station to pick up Gelowicz and Selek with his Honda. The group, driving slowly several times around the military installation, was suspicious enough to be stopped and controlled by a police patrol. At that stage giving their background most of what became known as the Sauerland  Cell were already under surveillance.

All together the Sauerland cell was comprised of about 10 conspirators and about 20 more supporters and sympathizers, who were not aware, necessarily, of the whole picture of the scheme. The group generally was amateurish in its behavior, poorly trained for its mission and with a too high profile in Germany to, successfully, avoid surveillance.  

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