MESOP JIHAD WATCH : DEUTSCHLAND AS A WARM PLACE FOR JIHADIST’S – German Who Plotted to Bomb U.S. Targets in Europe Gets Out of Prison Early

By SEWELL CHANAUG. 18, 2016  – THE NEW YORK TIMES – A German man who trained in Pakistan with an offshoot of Al Qaeda and confessed in 2009 to plotting to bomb American targets in Germany was released from prison this week. The decision to grant early release to the leader of the plot, Fritz Gelowicz, comes as the country grapples with the aftershocks of two recent attacks in Bavaria by people claiming loyalty to the Islamic State. – Mr. Gelowicz, 36, was sentenced in 2010 to 12 years in prison. Counting time served before his sentencing, he had been in prison for nearly nine years and was eligible for early release based on good behavior and because he was no longer deemed to be a danger, according to Andreas Vitek, a spokesman for the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court.

Mr. Gelowicz will have to report regularly to a probation officer.

The court in Düsseldorf released Mr. Gelowicz on Monday, but the decision did not receive widespread attention until Wednesday, after his defense lawyer, Dirk Uden, wrote about it on his website.

“I’m sure he will not use any violence against anybody,” Mr. Uden said in a phone interview on Wednesday, adding that his client had cooperated with the authorities and expressed remorse. “That’s based on my conversations with him, his conversations with psychologists in prison and his contacts with the police.”

It was not clear whether the American authorities objected to Mr. Gelowicz’s release. A spokesman for the United States Embassy in Berlin said the embassy was aware of the decision to release Mr. Gelowicz.

In 2008, after his arrest, the United States Treasury Department designated Mr. Gelowicz a terrorist. He also remains on a United Nations sanctions list, so it is likely that American intelligence services and the German authorities will keep an eye on him.

Guido Steinberg, a terrorism expert at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, who was an expert witness at the trial of Mr. Gelowicz and his accomplices, said the early release was likely to reinforce suspicions in the United States that Germany is soft on terrorism.

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“Fritz Gelowicz is a well-known personality,” Dr. Steinberg said in a phone interview. “We are a lot softer on terrorism than the Americans, the British, the French. It is obvious. Even Austria is tougher than the Germans.”

Dr. Steinberg said he did not object to the decision to release Mr. Gelowicz, but said he was concerned about what he described as persistent weaknesses in the collection and sharing of intelligence by and among the German authorities.

Dr. Steinberg said it was the National Security Agency, the United States counterintelligence service, that tipped off the German Federal Intelligence Service in late 2006 that Mr. Gelowicz had traveled to the North Waziristan region of Pakistan, to train with the Islamic Jihad Union, an affiliate of Al Qaeda.

Last week, partly in response to recent attacks in Würzburg and Ansbach, in Bavaria, by men proclaiming loyalty to the Islamic State, Germany’s interior minister proposed new security measures. They included closer monitoring of refugees, enhanced surveillance, the hiring of more federal police officers and greater sharing of intelligence data with other European nations. But Dr. Steinberg said he feared the measures did not go far enough.

“Our intelligence services don’t have a clue about communications among the Islamic State recruits in Iraq and Syria,” he said. “Our intelligence services are extremely weak. They have to become stronger if we are going to fight ISIS,” he added, referring to the Islamic State, which is also known as ISIL.

Born to a middle-class family in Munich in 1979, Mr. Gelowicz converted to Islam as a teenager. He made contacts with the Pakistan training camp through an Islamic center in Bavaria. When the police arrested him, in September 2007, they found 26 military detonators and 12 drums of hydrogen peroxide, the main explosive used in the London bombings that killed 52 people on July 7, 2005.

Mr. Gelowicz and three accomplices were charged, and the men became known as “the Sauerland cell,” after the region in North Rhine-Westphalia where Mr. Gelowicz and two others were arrested in a police raid.

Their proposed targets included the Ramstein Air Base, a major United Nations and NATO military installation in southwestern Germany.

“You planned a monstrous blood bath with an untold number of fatalities,” Judge Ottmar Breidling told Mr. Gelowicz and his accomplices at their sentencing. One of the accomplices, Daniel Martin Schneider, who also received a 12-year term, was released from prison last year. Another accomplice, Atilla Selek, a German son of Turkish parents, was sentenced to five years and was released from prison in 2011. The fourth accomplice, Adem Yilmaz, a Turkish citizen, was given an 11-year term and remains in prison.