In what may have been a warning of the Paris terrorist attacks, police in Germany last week arrested a mysterious 51-year-old man driving a car filled with weapons and explosives near the border of Germany and Austria — arms that according to reports in the German media were “professionally hidden” inside the vehicle.
Authorities also found that the man’s GPS system in the car was set to an ending address in Paris.
A video news summary of the German arrest report can be viewed on this page, above.
Investigators in Germany say that the link between the arrested individual and the devastating Paris attacks on Friday, November 13, remains unclear — and the suspect is not helping with any information, keeping his mouth shut and refusing to answer questions from investigators.
German Police Union President Rainer Wendt told a television news station in that country that French authorities were informed of the man’s arrest.
“That the French authorities were informed about this is totally clear,” Wendt told the station N-TV. “From what we know the man is in custody and isn’t saying anything, so with that information alone the French authorities seem to have been unable to do much. At least the attack couldn’t be prevented, despite all the efforts that were surely made.”
Thomas de Maiziere, Germany’s interior minister, confirmed that information about the man’s arrest was given to authorities in France soon after the suspect was detained on November 5.
“There is a connection to France but it’s not certain that there is a link to this attack,” de Maiziere said on Saturday, the day after the attacks, quoted in an Associated Press report.
But the governor of Bavaria, the German state where the arrest took place, expressed more certainty that the arrest of the man — a native of the Balkan county of Montenegro — may have provided a warning of the attacks in Paris that would hit eight days later.
“There are reasonable grounds to assume that there may be a link to the matter,” Bavarian Governor Horst Seehofer said on the public radio station Bayerischer Rundfunk.
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The government of Montenegro, however, was quick to deny that the arrested man had anything to do with the Paris attacks, saying the man, identified only by the initials “V.V.,” is not a Muslim, but rather a member of the Orthodox Christian religion, and that he has no criminal history.
“We checked this information and found that 51-year old V.V. from Podgorica is not known to the police as the perpetrator of serious crimes or violations of public order,” said Montenegro Police spokesperson Tamara Popovic. “Therefore, the information we have at this moment, obtained from the liaison officer of the German police, doesn’t suggest that this person is linked to a terrorist act in France.”
According to the Bayerischer Rundfunk report, “V.V.” was driving a Volkswagon Golf automobile containing, in addition to firearms, a kilogram of TNT.
German security services apparently received a tip about the man, resulting in their stop of the Volkswagon at the Germany-Austria border.
Several arrests have been made since the deadly attacks, which killed at least 129 people and injured more than 350 in the worst violence on French soil since World War II.
The terrorists who massacred hostages at the Bataclan concert hall arrived at the site in a rented VW Polo car and the man who rented that vehicle was caught trying to flee the country into Belgium while driving a different car, according to Paris prosecutor Francois Molins.
Across the border in Belgium, security services carried out three raids of private homes following the Paris terror attacks. One of those raids, according to intelligence sources who spoke to CNN, was directly connected to the terrorist attacks in Paris.
As the arrests mount, questions about whether any warnings existed that could have, or should have, alerted security authorities that the Paris attacks were imminent are now being asked.
[Featured Photo By Christophe Ena / Associated Press]