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Germans say militants in plot targeting Europe

BERLIN -- Islamic extremists accused of plotting to kill Iraq's prime minister in Germany are smuggling fighters from Iraq to Europe, raising a potential new terrorist threat on the continent, according to German officials.

More than 20 alleged supporters of Ansar al-Islam have been arrested in Europe in the past year as authorities move against the group linked with Al Qaeda and Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who has been leading attacks in Iraq.

Ansar al-Islam is suspected of spiriting dozens of young Muslims to Iraq to join the insurgency, but the latest raids in Germany heightened concerns that the organization also could pose a menace outside Iraq.

Acting on intelligence suggesting the group planned to attack Prime Minister Iyad Allawi of Iraq in Berlin, police on Dec. 3 arrested three Iraqis believed to be Ansar al-Islam members.

Arrest warrants for the three plot suspects were based on wiretaps and intelligence that one of them apparently cased Berlin locales on Allawi's itinerary. But investigators have turned up no weapons or bomb-making materials, and Allawi's name was never mentioned in the men's coded telephone conversations.

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