BERLIN (Reuters) – German police have arrested a man suspected of being a member of Islamic State and of feeding information to Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who planned last year’s Paris attacks, federal prosecutors said on Thursday.
The 20-year old Algerian identified only as Bilal C., is believed to have been tasked by Abaaoud to check border controls, waiting times and entry and exit points along the ‘Balkan route’ last year at the height of the migrant crisis.
Bilal C. is suspected of being trained by IS at the end of 2014 and the first half of last year after traveling to Syria from Algeria via Turkey.
From June to August 2015, he is thought to have traveled to Syria to Turkey, Greece, Serbia, Hungary and Austria where he informed Abaaoud about open borders before entering Germany.
Abaaoud planned several IS attacks in Europe including the bombing and shooting rampage in Paris that killed 130 people in November. He was shot dead in a gunbattle with French police soon after that attack.
Bilal C. was also thought to be in touch with Ayoub el Khazzani, who shot at passengers on a Thalys fast train between Amsterdam and Paris last August, said prosecutors.
There were no leads suggesting the suspect had been actively working for IS since his arrival in Germany, prosecutors said.
They said the suspect had already been arrested for a previous incident but they declined to give any details.
Many Germans were worried about any increased security risk from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision last year to open the borders to migrants trying to reach western Europe via the ‘Balkan route’.
(Writing by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Toby Chopra)