A group of men were caught on tape discussing bombing a U.S. air base and joking about the reaction once they carried out their plan, a German investigator testified Tuesday.
The witness, an agent with Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office, told the Duesseldorf state court that investigators listened to about 30 hours of covertly taped discussions by the men. The suspects used the word "attack" about 40 times and "bomb" 30 times, he said.
"Ramstein sounds good," the agent quoted alleged ringleader Fritz Gelowicz, 29, as saying in reference to the U.S. Air Force base.
Authorities arrested Gelowicz, along with Adem Yilmaz, 30, and Daniel Schneider, 23, at a rented vacation apartment on Sept. 4, 2007.
The fourth suspect, 24-year-old Attila Selek, was picked up in Turkey in November 2007 and later extradited to Germany. Selek and Yilmaz are Turkish citizens; Gelowicz and Schneider are German converts to Islam.
The defendants have not entered pleas, normal practice in the German legal system, but lawyers for Gelowicz and Schneider have said they would question whether some of the evidence could be used in court, including the tapes. Lawyers for Selek and Yilmaz raised similar questions.
The suspects had planned to attack the air base in 2007 using three car bombs and another bomb hidden in a base airport terminal that could have been remotely detonated with a mobile phone, said the witness, whose name was withheld in keeping with German witness protection laws.
He said the group discussed using the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington as a date for their plot, saying "the world will burn," if it worked.
"Some will have to die," the agent quoted Yilmaz as saying.
Prosecutors allege that the group planned car bomb attacks on various sites, including Ramstein, with the aim of killing "as many people as possible."
All the suspects are accused of being members of the radical Islamic Jihad Union, an offshoot of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. They face charges including membership in a terrorist organization and conspiracy to commit murder.
The charges together carry a 10-year maximum sentence.
The group had stockpiled 1,600 pounds (730 kilograms) of highly concentrated hydrogen peroxide, purchased from a chemical supplier, and could have mixed the peroxide with other substances to make explosives equivalent to 1,200 pounds (550 kilograms) of dynamite, German officials have said.
But German authorities _ acting partly on intelligence from the U.S. _ had been watching them and covertly replaced all of the hydrogen peroxide with a diluted substitute that could not have been used to produce a bomb.
The witness testified on the fifth day of the trial that the group made jokes about the expected reaction to the attack.
The witness testified the suspects also had organized false license plates for their cars and threatened to use violence to resist arrest.
Schneider is charged with attempted murder for allegedly grabbing an officer's gun and firing it at him during arrest. He faces possible life in prison.
The trial, being held in a high-security courtroom, is scheduled to last at least until the end of August.