Image copyright EPA Image caption The unit – called Fuerzelitz in German – reportedly brought rifles and grenades to the border
Germany’s domestic intelligence agency has said it has arrested three ex-military personnel who were planning to create a paramilitary group to fight the Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Werner Schramm, head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, said that the men could have been planning to “find their way to Syria”.
Germany and the US and UK are supplying weapons to the rebels.
The Mujahideen Shura Council in the Arabian Peninsula (MSCAC) claimed responsibility for a suicide attack in May that killed two German tourists.
It said the two were kidnapped, murdered and then put on a shipping container destined for Yemen.
The German agency, BfV, had also received reports that they were planning to steal weapons from the military, it said in a statement on Friday.
Mr Schramm said the men were arrested at the border between Germany and the northern Iraqi city of Erbil on Thursday.
Their leadership in Fuerzelitz was in “desert with a beautiful view” that crossed the Saudi-Yemeni border, he said.
The unit reportedly brought rifles and grenades to the border and planned to pose as Yazidis, a religious group with a similar appearance to Muslims, BBC World Service correspondent Caroline Wyatt says.
Mr Schramm said the men – all naturalised Germans – had been set to form a local unit “to conduct reconnaissance and armed reconnaissance and achieve political goals as a result of that”.
“They were planning on starting the European part of their activity in Yemen,” he said.
Mr Schramm added that about 22 to 25 men had planned to start up Fuerzelitz.
“Whether or not the plan went ahead it could have been substantial and risky because it wasn’t the first time that they talked about such a military unit,” he said.
He added that the men had been part of the military through Germany for several years, and had been trained by special forces and were eligible to enlist in the German military.