World

Iraqi held in attack on soccer team is suspected of ISIS ties

BERLIN — An Iraqi detained after the bombing of a soccer team bus in Dortmund is suspected of leading an Islamic State unit before fleeing to Germany last year, a federal prosecutor said Thursday.

The 26-year-old Iraqi, identified only as Abdul Beset A. in keeping with German privacy laws, was arrested Wednesday after the police searched his home in the Ruhr city of Wuppertal in connection with the attack on Tuesday that forced the postponement of a Champions League quarterfinal match.

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One player was wounded in the bombing, which stirred widespread anxiety about the security of the nation’s — and the world’s — most popular sport, and the Borussia Dortmund team’s coach and several players spoke harshly about the decision to play the rescheduled game less than 24 hours after the attack.

Frauke Koehler, a spokeswoman for the federal prosecutor’s office in Karlsruhe, said there was insufficient evidence to link the Iraqi to the Dortmund bombing, but she maintained that he should be held because of his connection to the Islamic State.

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Koehler said in a statement that the Iraqi commanded a unit of about 10 fighters whose task was to prepare and carry out kidnappings, blackmail, and killings. He left for Turkey in March 2015 and arrived in Germany early last year, at the tail end of a wave of more than 1 million migrants.

A spokesman for the prosecutor’s office would not speculate on whether there was any lingering doubt about a link between the Iraqi man and the Dortmund bombing, and whether authorities were holding him on other grounds as a way to ensure he remained in detention while the inquiry continues.

Tuesday’s soccer match, the first leg of a Champions League quarterfinal against Monaco, was postponed that evening but quickly rescheduled to Wednesday evening, less than 24 hours after the bombing. Monaco won 3-2, with a return match next week.

New York Times

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