Investigators searched Thursday for at least 10 more suspects linked to a foiled terror attack on German and American facilities - a plot which has triggered heated debate about the need for heightened police surveillance powers.
"This is the network that we are aware of at the moment," August Hanning, a top security official, told ARD television, a day after two Germans who had converted to Islam and a Turk were arrested on suspicion of plotting the attacks.
Hanning said investigators believed the network no longer posed a direct security threat.
Following months of surveillance, anti-terror police on Wednesday discovered large quantities of material to make explosives in a raid on a cottage in central Germany rented by the three suspects now under arrest. Prosecutors say they had military-style detonators.
Prosecutors have declined to name specific targets, mentioning restaurants, pubs, discotheques, airports and other places frequented by Americans.
The arrests provoked both relief that police foiled an attack and concern that two of the suspects are "homegrown" terror suspects, with the typically German first name of one of the suspects drawing attention. "His name is Fritz - a German," said the announcer on ZDF television's late-evening newscast Wednesday.
German and U.S. officials have been increasingly on edge after Islamist attacks on German troops in Afghanistan, fearing an attack at home, and security measures had been increased.
A spokesman for Taliban commander mullah Mansoor Dadullah told CBS News that a significant number of Western Muslims have been recruited and deployed in about five countries to carryout attacks, taking revenge for what he called U.S. and Western atrocities in Afghanistan and Iraq. The threats could not be independently verified, but the Taliban has made similar claims in the past.
Taliban spokesman Shahbudin Atal told CBS News via satellite phone that during last couple years the Taliban have trained good number of western Muslims, including Germans. He said he did not have information about the men arrested Wednesday in Germany. Atal said there are increasing numbers of Western Muslims that have been attending Taliban trainings camps.
Atal warned European countries that they must pull their troops from Afghanistan and Iraq otherwise they face attacks.
The suspect identified by police as Fritz G., aged 28, was described as a German convert to Islam, as was co-defendant Daniel Martin S. The Turkish defendant is Ayem Y., 28.
Fritz G.'s last known address was in the town of Ulm in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, where he studied business and engineering at a local vocational college.
Ulm and its neighboring town of Neu-Ulm have been described by German officials as centers of radical activity for years, dating back to before the Sept. 11 attacks.
Some officials seized on the terror plot to push for swift passage of a hotly contested bill defining authorities' ability to use the Internet to spy on suspects' computers. The issue will likely dominate an unscheduled meeting of the country's federal and state interior ministers in Berlin on Friday.
The case seems to have strengthened the hand of Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who has argued forcefully for allowing the use of "Trojan horse" software delivered through fake e-mails. This would allow authorities to spy on suspects' hard drives without their knowledge.
Guenther Beckstein, the conservative interior minister of the state of Bavaria, argued for the importance of swiftly passing legislation allowing increased surveillance.
As an example, he cited authorities' knowledge that while in Munich, one of the three suspects had pulled up an Islamist Web site.
"We would very much like to know what the contents were, what further links he had, for instance if he also pulled up terror techniques, if he had other meetings," Beckstein said.
"But for that, an online search would have been needed, but we couldn't do that because of course there's no legal basis."
Members of the left-wing half of Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition government, the Social Democrats, have expressed opposition or skepticism and urged the government to wait until after a decision by the Constitutional Court.
He said law enforcement already had been successful with existing means in capturing "highly dangerous suspected terrorists."
The German raids were launched after an intense, six-month investigation by 300 officers, who followed the suspects so closely that, at one point, police stealthily substituted a harmless substitute for the raw bomb material the suspects had collected, according to prosecutors.
Over the course of the next six months, authorities observed the suspects gathering a dozen containers of 35 percent hydrogen peroxide solution, which officials said can easily be combined with other material to make explosives. Police moved in when the suspects began moving some of the containers and acquiring other equipment used to make bombs.
Prosecutors said the three had undergone training at camps in Pakistan run by the Islamic Jihad Union, and had formed a German cell of the al Qaeda-influenced group.