Cannes, France, (CNSNews.com) – A special police unit has launched a series of counter-terrorist raids in six countries as counter-terrorist arrests suggest the threat from the New Year’s Day truck attack on a Christmas market in Berlin could spread.
Of the five people arrested last week in Austria, France, Germany, Belgium and Poland in the investigation into the truck incident, three are German nationals of Turkish origin – two arrested in Berlin last week and another in Leipzig – and one is German who was living in Morocco.
Among those released was a 30-year-old Syrian refugee who police had found guilty of trying to attack the Lausitz train station in February 2017.
In addition, officials say German authorities have canceled a visa for a seven-year-old Syrian child already in Berlin who had been studying and working in Iran.
Berlin police are also still looking for a 28-year-old Egyptian whose three children are believed to have been with him in the truck when it plowed into the crowd along the Christmas market.
Additionally, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has said that a search of a home in Buchenwald, north of Berlin, showed visitors to German private schools had helped provide the Tunisian suspect support.
Meanwhile, police in the French cities of Cannes and Marseille have said that Christmas market events in France were being closely monitored after fears of an attack on the variety of festive markets around the country.
They are holding security meetings and inspecting stalls and buildings to see whether they are in line with regulations, and will hold risk screenings and check how many police are present.
The arrivals of the suspects arrested in France and Germany and the reports of others in Bulgaria, Georgia and the Czech Republic have highlighted the “difficult” nature of dealing with Islamic State-affiliated terrorists, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner told France Inter radio.
“We must not be complacent,” he said, adding that the risk “remains very high.”
Much attention will be on a meeting in Brussels this week of representatives of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly as countries in the 28-nation EU await the outcome of the suspected terrorist’s extradition request.
The special grand prix sent by the council, which has no say on rule-making within the EU but instead urges co-operation among the bloc’s members, as well as interviews with experts, is held every five years.
Kebren Batalla of Swiss security firm Argotec said Monday the appointment of a close personal friend of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to a leadership post could indicate the group is preparing for a major terror operation.
“This would also explain the increasing frequency of offensive operations, often led by suicide bombers, which are being executed by the ISIS,” he told NBC News.