German prosecutors have launched legal proceedings against 180 suspects linked to jihadist groups in Syria, the Justice Ministry said Friday, a day after police arrested three Syrians suspected of planning an attack.
"The chief prosecutor is currently carrying out 120 proceedings targeting 180 suspects in connection with the civil war in Syria, for their membership in, or backing of, a terrorist organization," said justice ministry spokesman Philip Scholz.
Separately, the Interior Ministry said there were "499 potentially dangerous individuals in the field of Islamist terrorism."
Federal prosecutors said Thursday police had broken up a suspected terror cell which was planning to carry out a suicide attack in the western city of Duesseldorf for the Islamic State jihadist group.
Two attackers were allegedly planning to detonate suicide vests while the others were to kill passersby with guns and explosives on a major street in Duesseldorf, prosecutors said in a statement.
The suspects were identified as 27-year-old Hamza C., 25-year-old Mahood B., and Abd Arahman A. K., 31, who were arrested in the states of Brandenburg near Berlin, North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Wurttemberg.
A fourth Syrian man, Saleh A., 25, had been in custody in France since turning himself in in February, they said, and Germany had now requested his extradition.
Saleh A. had gone to a police station in northern Paris on February 1, telling officers that he had "a certain amount of information about a sleeper cell that was ready to strike in Germany," a French judicial source said.
He was held for four days and interrogated by anti-terrorist police.
"His statement led to investigations with German authorities which … led to the arrest of these three suspects," the source added.
Saleh A. told French investigators that 10 people were to carry out the terror plan, and that besides him and the three arrested in Germany, other members of the cell were to travel to Germany, German weekly Spiegel reported, quoting unnamed sources.
The suspect had been registered as an asylum seeker since October 16, 2013 in Kaarst, North Rhine-Westphalia, according to the city's spokeswoman.
He had turned himself in because he did not want his daughter to grow up knowing her father was a terrorist, according to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily.
AFP contributed to this report