German Soldier Posing as Syrian Refugee Arrested for Planning Gun Attack

German soldier
A German soldier who pretended to be a refugee has been arrested in Bavaria, southern Germany, for planning to carry out a gun attack. Reuters/Larry Downing

Police have arrested a German soldier who pretended to be a Syrian refugee in Bavaria, southern Germany, after they discovered he was planning a gun attack.

The German-born man registered for refugee status in Syria in December 2015 and successfully applied for asylum in Bavaria in January 2016, despite the fact he was unable to speak Arabic and is not of Syrian origin, German newspaper Die Welt reports. He received monthly payments and was allowed to stay in accommodation for asylum-seekers.

Prosecutors in Frankfurt said that the 28-year-old lieutenant, who cannot be named due to privacy laws, was motivated by a "xenophobic background" to carry out " a serious crime endangering state security" with a handgun that he had hidden in a toilet at Vienna airport in January.

He was briefly detained at the time, but police released him due to insufficient evidence. When he returned to retrieve the gun in February, he was arrested at the airport.

He may have claimed asylum in order to blame the attack on refugees and asylum-seekers, Die Welt reports.

The lieutenant, who is normally stationed at an army base near Strasbourg in north-east France, did not obtain the gun while on duty with the German armed forces, according to prosecutors.

Police also arrested a 24-year-old co-conspirator after searching 16 properties in Germany, France and Austria. They found several items banned under weapons and explosives laws at his home in Offenbach, near Frankfurt in the south of Germany.