BERLIN – A suspected Islamist militant arrested earlier this week committed suicide in his cell at a prison in Leipzig, the state government of Saxony said Wednesday, confirming earlier reports by German media.
Jaber Albakr, a 22-year-old Syrian refugee, was taken into custody Monday on suspicion he was planning an imminent terrorist attack.
Der Spiegel magazine reported on its Web site that the prisoner had begun a hunger strike and been placed on suicide watch.
German intelligence had indications that Albakr might have been preparing to carry out an attack “this week,” the head of the BfV domestic security agency, Hans-Georg Maassen, told the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
Authorities moved to arrest Albakr last Saturday, but he managed to elude them and flee his residence in the eastern city of Chemnitz.
Police found explosives and detonators in the residence.
Using an Internet chat room, the suspect arranged temporary lodging for himself with other Syrian refugees in Leipzig, about an hour away from Chemnitz.
But when his hosts realized Albakr was being sought by police, they tied him up and handed him over to authorities in the wee hours of Monday morning.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said Wednesday that officials were still trying to determine when Albakr became radicalized.
He first arrived in Germany in February 2015 and was granted refugee status in June after a background check uncovered nothing that raised suspicions.
Albakr traveled twice to Turkey last year and made at least one visit to the Syrian city of Idlib, according to a report on Saxony’s MDR television.