Showing posts with label Berlin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Berlin. Show all posts

December 22, 2016

Suspect Anis Amri Emerged from Jail a Mentally Different Young Man


 
 Anis Amri selfie posted on social media




In his impoverished Tunisian hometown, Anis Amri drank alcohol and never prayed, his brothers say. Then after joining the wave of migrants crossing the Mediterranean, he ended up in an Italian jail, only to emerge an utterly changed man.

Now he is prime suspect in this week's attack on a Berlin Christmas market and two of his brothers, Walid and Abdelkader, fear the failed asylum seeker may have been radicalized by radical Islamists while he spent almost four years behind bars.

"He doesn't represent us or our family," Abdelkader told Sky News Arabia. "He went into prison with one mentality and when he came out he had a totally different mentality."

German police have yet to establish who drove a truck into the market stalls on Monday, killing 12 people, though the interior minister said there was a "high probability" it was Amri. Abdelkader however said he was sure his brother - who turned 24 on Thursday - was innocent of the crime.

Whether or when Amri was radicalized has also yet to be proved. But in Oueslatia, a rural town that lives mostly off agriculture, the brothers said something had profoundly changed Amri after he made the dangerous sea crossing to Italy five years ago as a teenager.

"When he left Tunisia he was a normal person. He drank alcohol and didn't even pray," Walid told the TV channel. "He had no religious beliefs. My dad, my brother and I all used to pray and he didn't."

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on Thursday that investigators had found the fingerprints of Amri, who is being hunted across Europe, on the truck's door.

"If he did this, it is a dishonor to us. But I am sure that he did not do it. He went to Europe because of social reasons, to work and to help our family," Abdelkader told reporters.

A weeping Walid said their last contact had been 10 days ago. "We were in touch with him through Facebook and by telephone and he has no relation to terrorism," he said.

LAMPEDUSA ARRIVAL

A senior Italian police source told Reuters that Amri arrived on the island of Lampedusa, probably after being rescued at sea, in February 2011. Amri's crossing, made shortly after the overthrow of Tunisia's autocratic president in the first of the "Arab Spring" revolts, followed a route that tens of thousands of other boat migrants have since taken.

Amri was at a shelter on Lampedusa when migrants started a fire, destroying parts of it to protest against being held there. He told authorities he was a minor, though documents now indicate he was not, and he was transferred to the Sicilian city of Catania, where he was enrolled in school. 

In October 2011 he was arrested after attempts to set fire to a building, the source said, and later convicted of vandalism, threats and theft.

Amri served his term in at least two different prisons in Sicily, first in Catania and then in Palermo, before being sent in May 2015 to a detention center to await deportation.

Asked whether Amri had been radicalized in prison, the police source said he did not know about this period, while the director of the penitentiary system did not respond to Reuters queries.

Palermo's court opened an investigation on Thursday into his time in prison in Sicily to collect information on his time behind bars, according to a senior magistrate.

Walid pointed a finger of blame for Amri's change on fellow inmates. "Maybe he got into this when he was in prison where he met Algerians, Egyptians and Syrians," he said.

Italy tried to deport Amri to Tunisia, but authorities there refused to take him back, saying they could not be sure he was Tunisian, and so he was released after 60 days and merely asked to leave the country.

LITTLE OPPORTUNITY, FERTILE GROUND

Tunisian police were stationed outside the family home in a poor district of Oueslatia on Thursday, where Amri's father worked with a donkey cart. Counter-terrorism investigators had been talking to the father and brothers.

Oueslatia, near the historic religious city of Kairouan, is typical of small towns in central and southern Tunisia that offer little opportunity for young men and became fertile ground for jihadist recruiters.

    Residents say in 2014 several families in Oueslatia had sons leave to fight for Islamist militant groups and die in Syria, Iraq and neighboring Libya.

According to Walid, Amri had indeed left Italy in 2015 and headed to Germany, joining a tide of migrants, via Switzerland.

Amri applied for asylum in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia but this was rejected in June this year. Again he could not be deported as he did not have identification papers, so Tunisia would not take him.

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While in Germany, he came to the attention of security officials. Berlin authorities put him under surveillance this year over suspicions that he had been planning a robbery to fund the purchase of automatic weapons, and was seeking accomplices for a possible attack.

Ralf Jaeger, interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, said on Wednesday that German security agencies had shared information on him with the Joint Counter-Terrorism Centre in November, weeks before the attack.

Mass-circulation newspaper Bild quoted an unnamed counter-terrorism official as saying: "It became clear in the spring that he was looking for accomplices for an attack and was interested in weapons."

Amri, however, was not arrested. Security officials stopped their surveillance in September after their suspicions that he had been planning an attack did not firm up.

WILLING TO DIE

During his time in Germany he moved between North Rhine-Westphalia and Berlin. In July this year, police opened an investigation against him in connection with a knife brawl in the capital, Bild said.

German media reported that in North Rhine-Westphalia, Amri had contact with an Islamist network led by a man known as Abu Walaa ("Father of Loyalty"), who was arrested with four other men in November. They faced charges of setting up a "jihadist network" that tried to recruit Muslims to go to Syria and fight alongside Islamic State militants.

Abu Walaa, identified in German court papers as 32-year-old Iraqi Ahmad Abdulaziz Abdullah A., is awaiting trial.

Bild also reported that Amri had expressed willingness to carry out a suicide attack in online chats in jihadist forums.

Tunisian authorities estimate nearly 4,000 citizens have left to fight overseas with jihadist groups, ranging from middle-class students, army dropouts and a top-flight professional footballer to young men from poor, rural areas.

(Additional reporting by Michael Nienaber in Berlin and Patrick Markey in Algiers; Writing by David Stamp; Editing by Pravin Char)


December 21, 2016

Berlin Terror Suspect Rejected for Asylum and Under Investigation



German officials are searching for a Tunisian man whose ID was found under the driver's seat of the truck used in Monday's attack. The suspect was said to already have been under investigation for a terror plot. German authorities said on Wednesday that they are searching for a Tunisian man in connection with Monday's terror attack in Berlin.
The man has already being investigated in connection with an act of terrorism. The authorities noted his contacts with German Salafists, who follow an extremely conservative brand of Islam, according to the interior minister of German state North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW) Ralph Jäger.
They also launched a probe, based on suspicion that the 24-year-old Anis Amri was preparing "a serious crime against the state." 
"Security agencies shared their findings and information about this person with the Joint Counter-Terrorism center, most recently in November 2016," he told reporters on Wednesday.
Earlier this year, the authorities received a tip from federal security agencies that that the suspect might be planning a break-in. Officials suspected Amri could use the loot to buy automatic weapons.
According to prosecutors in Berlin, the authorities placed the Tunisian under surveillance in March.
While the surveillance data showed that the man was involved in a drug dealing and a bar brawl, it turned up no evidence to confirm the original suspicion. The monitoring was canceled in September this year.
Tunisian radio station Radio Mosaique reported that Amri server four years in Italian jail for burning down a school. The outlet cited Amri's father and Tunisian security officials as sources.
No papers - no deportation
Interior Minister Jäger added that the suspect was living in NRW before traveling to Berlin in February. He also confirmed that the man applied for the asylum and was rejected.  
However, the authorities ran into bureaucratic hurdles while trying to repatriate him.
"The man could not be deported  because he had no valid ID papers," Jäger told the media.
He added that the Tunisia has initially denied that this man was their citizen.
"The papers only arrived today," he said. "I will not comment on this any further."
Also on Wednesday, some 150 police officers raided a migrant shelter in Emmerich, near the Dutch border, where suspect reportedly lived before moving to Berlin. The raid is a part of a nationwide manhunt.

dw.com

Picture of Tunisian Man Wanted in Berlin Terror Attack




The Independent Uk reports The image appeared to match those on a Facebook profile of a Tunisian man called Anis Amri.
Der Spiegel reported that the suspect was born in 1992 in the city of Tataouine, although he was also believed to go under at least two other aliases and gave authorities differing dates of birth.
In the district of Kleve, in North Rhine-Westphalia, he went under the name Ahmed A, 21, the Allgemeine Zeitung reported.
It was unclear when the suspect arrived in Germany but a confidential security database entry from February reportedly showed authorities believed he had links to Isis, which was reported to be using his hometown as a transit base for fighters last year.

German Police Looking for Tunisian Man in Terror Truck Killings





Image: Christmas market attack

The truck that crashed into a Christmas market in Berlin, Germany. Tobias Schwarz / AFP - Getty Images






German authorities scoured the country Wednesday for a Tunisian asylum seeker who is being sought in the truck rampage through a Christmas festival here that killed 12 people and injured 48.
Investigators don't know if there is more than one perpetrator at large. The new suspect emerged after police found documents in the truck belonging to a 24-year-old Tunisian national identified only as Anis A, the German magazine Spiegel reported on its website.
He was identified from a document relating to asylum that was found in the vehicle's cabin, Spiegel and Allgemeine Zeitung reported. The document said Anis A. was born in the southern Tunisian city of Tataouine in 1992, Spiegel said. It reported that he is also known by two aliases.
Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported that he applied for asylum in April and received a temporary residence permit.
Photographs purporting to be of Anis A. were circulating on social media. 
A previous suspect, a 23-year-old Pakistani asylum seeker, was released Tuesday evening because prosecutors did not find enough evidence linking him to the incident. He denied any involvement in the assault.
Germany is treating the attack as terrorism, which the Islamic State said was carried out by a "soldier." No evidence has emerged establishing a connection to the militant group, which has staged and inspired assaults across Europe and the United States.
Berlin police urged people to be especially alert Wednesday and warned that the person or persons responsible were likely armed and dangerous. As of Tuesday night, police had received more than 500 tips about the attack. Security has been tightened in Berlin and across other European capital cities.
"I am relatively confident that we will perhaps tomorrow or in the near future be able to present a new suspect," Andre Schulz, the chairman of the Federation of German Detectives, told state broadcaster ZDF on Tuesday evening.
One report, by Berlin's RBB news, said the truck's driver may be injured and that police were using DNA recovered from the vehicle to see if the attacker was hiding among the injured in the hospital. A related theory circulating in German media is that the truck's original Polish driver, who was found dead at the scene, may have tried to fight the perpetrator and wrestle him for the steering wheel as the truck was being driven into the market. Police have not commented on that idea.
Six of the dead have been identified as German nationals, according to German news agency DPA, citing police. Another five have not yet been identified. The Polish driver was found dead in the truck's passenger seat. A woman from Italy and another from Israel were missing after the attack, according to DPA.
"We will not let cosmopolitan Berlin be taken by such a cowardly attack, by fear and terror," Berlin Mayor Michael Müller said at a memorial service at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, close to the site of the attack, on Tuesday evening.
The prospect that the perpetrator is a recent migrant is fueling an anti-immigrant backlash in Germany, which has admitted nearly 1 million people fleeing conflicts in the Middle East and Africa under Chancellor Angela Merkel’s liberal migration policy.

December 20, 2016

ISIS Claims Responsibility for Terror Attack in Berlin






The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the truck attack in Berlin on Monday. The attack has left at least 12 dead and dozens more injured.
NBC reports the Pakistani migrant who was arrested Tuesday as a suspect in the deadly truck attack on a crowded Christmas market in Germany has been released because of insufficient evidence. 
The man was arrested not far from the scene of Monday night's carnage in the German capital, where 12 people were killed and nearly 50 others wounded. 
But the Federal Prosecutor’s Office released him Tuesday night after investigators said they could not prove he was in the cabin of the truck during the rampage.
Local media identified the suspect as "Naved B.," a 23-year-old who entered Germany via Austria on Dec. 31, 2015. He was reportedly already known to police for minor offenses. Those reports could not immediately be confirmed by NBC News. 
De Maiziere said only a few of the victims had been identified so far, and that 18 of the 48 wounded had suffered severe injuries. 
Among the dead was a Polish man found shot to death inside the cab of the stolen truck. The weapon has not been found. 
Bloodstained clothing was also found inside the cab, but the suspect in custody was wearing clean clothes, Frank said. 
Christmas markets in Berlin were closed Tuesday as a mark of respect for the victims, but the interior ministry said other events around the country would take place with increased security measures.

December 19, 2016

In Berlin Trucker Plows thru Xmas Market Killing Around 45 People




A truck plowed through a Christmas market in Germany's capital on Monday evening, killing at least nine people and injuring about 45 others, authorities said. 
The incident happened at Breitscheidplatz, a public square in the center of Berlin. The driver's nationality wasn't known, but Berlin police said they suspected his truck, which bore Polish license plates, was stolen. 
Police initially said on German TV that the driver was apprehended after having tried to flee. They later said on Twitter only that a suspect was arrested in the vicinity of the public square and that it remained under investigation whether that person was the driver. 
 A passenger in the truck was among those killed, police spokesman Thomas Neuendorf said on German TV. It wasn't immediately clear how the passenger died or what his or her relationship was to the driver. 

Image: Truck in Berlin

A truck near the Christmas market in Berlin on Monday. Fabrizio Bensch / Reuters

It also wasn't clear whether the truck veered into the holiday crowds on purpose or by accident, but in a security message to U.S. citizens in Germany, the U.S. Embassy said, "Police are reporting this as a suspected terrorist incident." 
Emma Rushton, a witness, told NBC News that she heard the "terrifying" crash while she was with a friend at the Christmas market while on vacation in Berlin from Rugby, England. 
"People were bleeding. There was lots of blood and lots of crying," she said. 
Rushton said she that thought the truck was going about 40 mph and that "there was no way it was just a veer-off-the-road accident." 
Other witnesses said victims were crushed.  The U.S. ambassador to Germany, John B. Emerson, called reports of the incident "devastating." Emerson said the embassy in Berlin was closely monitoring updates from German authorities and was ready to assist any U.S. citizens searching for news of their loved ones.  In July, a truck driver killed 84 Bastille Day revelers in Nice, France, and injured more than 200 others before he was shot dead by police. Officials said he had been planning the attack for months. 
U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News that Monday's incident was somewhat consistent but that they are aware of no claims of responsibility and aren't ready to call it a terrorist attack. They pointed out that German authorities have conducted a series of raids in recent weeks, rolling up numerous ISIS operatives. 
 July: Risk of Truck Attack Has Long Been U.S. Security Concern

 U.S. officials have long feared truck attacks on U.S. soil. Permanent truck barriers were installed around government buildings nationwide after the 1995 truck bomb attack in Oklahoma City. Police in New York and Chicago said Monday that they had beefed up their presences at high-profile locations as a precaution. 
In November, the State Department warned U.S> citizens to exercise caution at overseas holiday festivals and outdoor markets in light of the heightened risk of terrorist attacks throughout Europe. 
The Weihnachtsmarkt, or Christmas market, at Breitscheidplatz — just off the main shopping district of West Berlin close to the historic Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church — is one of dozens of Christmas markets in the city.


February 3, 2015

Post Re-unification Berlin has become A symbol of German Open Mindedness



"Berlin is poor, but sexy. That's the whole point of Berlin. It really is poor, look at any other capital in Europe and you will see that they are different to Berlin"
Post re-unification Berlin has become a symbol of German open-mindedness, liberalism and alternative lifestyles.
In the aftermath of the collapse of the wall, curious visitors arrived in droves to visit a city that had been divided for decades and appeared mysterious and perhaps even a little forbidding. 
Many liked the free-thinking, anything-goes attitude they found there. This atmosphere was fostered by a new optimistic spirit and a plentiful supply of vacant buildings, which quickly became art workshops, theatres, clubs and generally cool places to hang out. Rent was cheap, or even non-existent, and times were good. 
But then the money started to flow in and everything changed. In this edition of Reporter, euronews’ Patrick Wauthier takes a trip around the German capital and meets residents with mixed views on changes that are transforming its character and driving up rents. 
Watch the video to find out more.
Copyright © 2015 euronews

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