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Bombing of Borussia Dortmund Bus Targeted Club’s Share Price, Prosecutors Say

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The team bus of the Borussia Dortmund soccer club was damaged in an explosion in Dortmund, Germany, on April 11.

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Maja Hitij/Getty Images

BERLIN — Germany’s elite antiterrorism unit has arrested a 28-year-old German-Russian man who is suspected of trying to blow up the Borussia Dortmund team bus, with the apparent aim of driving down the price of the club’s stock so he could profit through a speculation scheme, federal prosecutors said Friday.

The suspect, identified only as Sergei W. in keeping with German privacy laws, was charged with attempted murder, inflicting serious bodily harm and carrying out an explosion.

His arrest represented the clearest explanation to date of the motive for the attack, which has been attributed at various times to Islamist extremists and right-wing and left-wing political groups, and has added to election-year fears that Germany is vulnerable to terrorism.

According to prosecutors, the suspect had checked into the hotel where the team was staying. On the day of the attack, he purchased 15,000 put options for shares in Borussia Dortmund, which is publicly traded. These would have entitled him to sell shares later at a predetermined price.

The financial maneuver could have resulted in a substantial profit for the suspect if the value of the shares had fallen in the interim, prosecutors said. “A significant share price drop could have been expected if a player had been seriously injured or even killed as a result of the attack,” they said.

One player, the Spanish defender Marc Bartra, was wounded in the April 11 bombing as the team, one of Germany’s most successful, was heading to its stadium for a Champions League match against A.S. Monaco. A police officer was also wounded.

The bus was heavily damaged in the attack in Dortmund, about 60 miles east of the Dutch border, and a piece of shrapnel was found embedded in the headrest of a seat, suggesting the toll could have easily been much greater.

The match was rescheduled for the following night. Monaco won it, 3-2, and went on to oust the German team from the competition in the second leg, winning at home 3-1.

Soccer is the country’s most popular sport, drawing tens of thousands of fans into stadiums, and the bombing caused widespread fear about security for both players and spectators in Germany and around the world.

The attack was initially thought to be the work of Islamist extremists after three letters claiming responsibility were found in the hedges by the roadside where the bombs had been planted, although doubts were immediately raised about their authenticity by experts on terrorism and Islam.

The letters called for Germany to pull back its involvement in the Western military coalition in Syria, by withdrawing aircraft used for reconnaissance in areas where the Islamic State is under attack and by…

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