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Palestinian Group Suspected of Planning Attacks on Jewish, Israeli Targets in Germany

The German federal prosecutor's office is still holding eight of 13 Palestinians arrested this week. Prosecutors have said most of those still being held are charged with membership in a terrorist organization and are suspected of planning attacks against Jewish and Israeli targets in Germany.

Federal Prosecutor Kay Nehm said Thursday that interviews with the arrested men have not provided investigators with any clues about specific targets in Germany. But in a joint news conference with the head of Germany's Federal Criminal Investigation Bureau, the prosecutor said evidence shows the Palestinian group is working towards attacks on Jewish and Israeli targets.

Mr. Nehm said his office is still interviewing two Palestinians arrested in raids on Wednesday. But of the 11 arrested in a country-wide operation Tuesday, six have been charged with forming a German terror-cell supporting the aims of a radical Islamic group, Al Tawhid. He said another suspect is being held on the lesser charge of supporting the group, and one is being held on a separate offense.

The German prosecutor said Al Tawhid originated in Jordan but took its spiritual leadership from a British-based cleric. He said the German group was mainly an ideological and religious alliance of like-minded individuals. He said the group operated largely independently but received financial and logistical support from an international Islamic network.

Mr. Nehm said at least one of the group's members had been trained in an Al Qaida-financed camp in Afghanistan.

He said the German group's activities were not directly related in any way to the September 11 attacks in New York and near Washington.

Meanwhile, in the German parliament, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said military force will not lead to a solution in the Middle East. He condemned terrorism, but warned Israel that it must be ready to face criticism from Germany, which until now has been regarded as Israel's staunchest ally in Europe.

He said Germany is ready to play whatever part is required in international security. But he said sending troops to the Middle East as part of an international peacekeeping force is not on the agenda at the moment.

Mr. Schroeder's opponent in upcoming federal elections, Bavarian premier Edmond Stoiber, went even further. Given the historic sensitivities over the holocaust, Mr. Stoiber ruled out ever sending German soldiers to the region. He said Germany's involvement must be only on a political level.