Federal Police officers lead two suspects out from the helicopter for their arraignment at the Federal Supreme Court (BGH) in Karlsruhe, Germany, 15 December 2023. EPA-EFE/RONALD WITTEK


Christmas terror arrests lead police to suspected Hamas weapons cache in Bulgaria


German police has found a weapons cache in Southern Bulgaria during an investigation into four suspected Hamas terrorists who allegedly plotted terror attacks over the Christmas period.

According to investigators, the armaments were to be used to hit Jewish targets in Europe.

Initially, the police suspected the weapons were hidden in Poland but it turned out they were in Bulgaria.

On December 14 last year, Dutch and German police arrested four suspected members of Hamas, three from Berlin and one from Rotterdam.

According to German magazine Der Spiegel, the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) discovered photos of pistols, magazines of bullets and other weapons parts on the mobile phone of one of the four men.

Digital evidence from the photos indicated that the firearms had been buried under a tree in a plastic bag and led the investigators to a spot in Southern Bulgaria.

As a result, Bulgarian police successfully retrieved the weapons.

The four are alleged to have been tasked by the Al-Qassam Brigade, the paramilitary wing of the Palestinian terror organisation Hamas, with identifying a suitable underground storage facility for arms in Europe.

According to investigators in the German city of Karlsruhe, their objective was to transport concealed weapons from such a facility to Berlin, allegedly to prepare for potential attacks on Jewish institutions, Der Spiegel reported.

Initial suspicions led the investigators to believe the weapons were in Poland and some of the suspects are said to have travelled there repeatedly. It is still unclear if there are more arms hidden in Poland.

When the men were arrested, none were carrying weapons.

The German security authorities were alerted to the alleged terror plans on a tip from the Israeli Secret Service.

In January, Israeli authorities publicly disclosed details of a purported Hamas-backed network, which reportedly aimed to carry out attacks targeting Jews in Europe.

The alleged mastermind behind these plans was Khalil Al Kharraz, who served as the deputy commander of the Al-Qassam Brigade until his death. He was killed a few months ago in a drone strike conducted by Israeli forces.

Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reported that the suspect from Rotterdam allegedly served as the secretary of the ISRAA Foundation until 2009.

ISRAA – International Support Directly to the Needy – describes itself as a humanitarian non-profit organisation founded in 2001. Its name could also carry religious connotation.

The organisation claims it supports Palestinian orphans and refugees living in camps.

In 2021, the Dutch lender Rabobank tried to cut ties with the group but a judge ordered the bank to reopen the accounts ISRAA held.

On June 4, 2023, Israel’s National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing (NBCTF) announced a so-called seizure order against another former ISRAA volunteer for the “illegal reward for terror”. The individual allegedly transferred $400,000 to an account affiliated with Hamas.

Later, the Dutch Public Prosecutor’s Office levelled accusations against another ISRAA activist, alleging that ISRAA served as the financial hub through which more than €6 million was raised for Hamas.

In February this year, a Dutch court ruled Rabobank could drop the organisation as a client.