Jaber Albakr arrived in Germany in February previous year during a migrant influx into the country and was granted temporary asylum four months later.
Spiegel Online reported that police captured Albakr after a tip-off from another Syrian living in Leipzig. The man agreed but later called police, who arrested Albakr at the home early on Monday morning.
Michaelis said in the press conference on Monday that a Syrian man walked into a police station with a photo of Jaber A. on his phone, saying that he and his roommates had caught him.
Police said it was not clear when and how the suspect met up with his three countrymen in Leipzig, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Chemnitz, or if they already knew him.
Officials said he had not previously aroused suspicion.The suspect's background will be unwelcome news for Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose conservatives have lost support to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party over her refugee-friendly policy.
Albakr came to Germany as a refugee in 2015 and had been granted asylum.
The other Syrians, recognizing him, told him he could stay and then tied him up and alerted police.
The explosives were destroyed Saturday in a controlled detonation by bomb squad experts in a pit dug outside the five-story apartment building because they were considered too risky to transport. Another person was arrested in the city center and police said they believed that person was in contact with al-Bakr. Investigators said they found "several hundred grams" of a volatile explosive hidden in the apartment, enough to cause significant damage.
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Saxony police spokesman Tom Bernhardt said Monday that police were informed that 22-year-old Jaber Albakr was being held at an apartment in Leipzig, and "immediately went there and arrested him".
Michaelis said that police were not sure in which apartment in the building the suspect was hiding, and had to break off a planned raid, since there was a danger to other residents.
The bomb squad later dug a hole outside the apartment building and carried out a controlled explosion of the material.
"We had clues from intelligence gathering that at first he wanted to attack trains in Germany", Hans-Georg Maassen, head of Germany's domestic intelligence agency BfV, tells state broadcaster ARD.
More than 1 million refugees have arrived in Germany over the last two years, many fleeing the war in Syria or violence in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Western Europe has suffered several major Islamist attacks since early previous year, prompting a tightening of public security measures across the continent.