Three men of Iraqi origin holding British passports have been arrested in Alexandroupolis, northern Greece, near the border crossing with Turkey for illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.
The men were hiding the guns in a mobile home and another vehicle. The large quantities of ammunition led authorities to suspect that the three individuals are participating in a criminal organization and terrorism acts, according to a Greek police statement on Sunday.
The two dozen firearms and 240,000 bullets found in the suspects’ possession raised questions whether they belong to a jihadist group.
After an exchange of information with other European authorities on their identities, Greek authorities believe that they are Iraqi Kurds who intended to sell the guns and ammunition in northern Iraq, says national news agency AMNA, citing Greek intelligence sources.
The first two suspects, aged 35 and 36, were detained on Saturday after Hellenic Coast Guard officers discovered 18 firearms and about 40,000 bullets in their car at the port of Alexandroupolis.
The third suspect, 40, was arrested near the customs office at the borderline with Turkey when police found four firearms and about 200,000 bullets in his trailer, according to the press statement.
The three suspects have no previous criminal records. They stayed at a hotel in Alexandroupolis for eight days and Greek authorities believe that the firearms came from Germany or Austria and they were bound to be delivered to the Turkish-Iraqi border. They carried a substantial amount of euros, U.S. dollars, and Turkish and Iraqi money with them, along with seven mobile phones.
On Tuesday the three men will be brought before a local prosecutor to be formally charged with participation in a criminal organization, terrorist activities, illegal possession and transport of weapons, the official announcement said.
Three weeks ago two suspected jihadists holding Swedish passports were arrested in Alexandroupolis carrying military knives in their luggage.
One of the two men was a Bosnia native who had been sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2005 for planning to attack the U.S. embassy in the country on behalf of an al Qaeda-linked group. He was released in 2011 and sought political asylum in Sweden.