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Anis Amri, the photo that the German Interior Minister does not want you to see

Massive political fall-out awaits Merkel: Berlin jihadist was migrant known to police

A Tunisian "refugee" or "asylum seeker" has become Europe’s most wanted terrorist after he massacred 12 people at a Berlin Christmas market by mowing them down with a freighter truck. But German authorities have not been forthcoming with details of the terrorist.

Published: December 22, 2016, 10:40 am

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    German police confirmed that they have launched a manhunt for a dangerous jihadist, Anis Amri, 23, a migrant who came to Germany earlier this year. His paperwork and blood samples were allegedly found in the truck’s footwell and cabin.

    The anti-immigration AfD blamed the attack on Chancellor Merkel, and have called a silent vigil in front of her office as the international manhunt continues. Frauke Petry, AfD leader tweeted “Even today, political correctness is maintained. Sad” after leftists riled against the “fear and hatred” of Germans and suggested “patience, empathy and humanity” for terrorists.

    Marcus Pretzell, a FWM contributor and a member of the European Parliament representing AfD in the European Union’s headquarters in Brussels and Strasbourg, had tweeted earlier: “When will the rule of law fight back? When will this … hypocrisy end? These are Merkel’s dead!”

    Merkel’s coalition members were also firing salvoes at her: “Nationwide, there are a large number of refugees about whom we don’t know where they’re from or what their names are. And that’s a potential major security issue,” CDU member Klaus Bouillon, the interior minister of Saarland state, told AFP.

    If various news reports about the suspect are confirmed, the fact that this attack happened is not only a tragedy for the victims and their families, but a massive political scandal unfolding in Germany.

    While it is increasingly difficult for the intelligence community to track radicalized lone wolves who have entered Germany as a result of Angela Merkel’s foolhardy open border policy, this particular jihadist had already come to the attention of the security services.

    Police authorities in the northern federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia had already investigated Anis A, on suspicion of preparing an act of terrorism, the state interior minister Ralf Jäger has confirmed.

    According to Jäger, the suspect was supposed to be deported back to Tunisia. However the case was held up because Tunisian authorities at first refuted that he was a citizen of their country. “The necessary papers only arrived from Tunisia today,” Jäger told the German daily, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung (SZ).

    The SZ also added that the suspect spent a day in detention but was freed again after authorities were not able to ascertain completely his actual identity. Contacted by AFP, Tunisia’s interior and foreign ministries refused to comment on the case.

    Italian media reported that Amri had served time in prison there for setting fire to a school.

    Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere quickly announced that police won’t be releasing the suspect’s name or pictures of him, despite the name of the Tunisian man already circulating widely in the press.

    “It is important to us that we have success – therefore we will be searching undercover at first,” the minister declared, without explaining how this unneccessary protective measure could possibly aid in the arrest of the perpetrator. His over-zealous comment did however signal rising fear of political fall-out.

    There seems to be no excuse for failing to prevent an attack by a terrorist already on the state’s radar for more than one offence, including a terror related one, suggesting political meddling by Merkel and her surrogates to prevent proper scrutiny of the migrant deluge.

    Amri reportedly communicated with ISIS at least once, researched how to build explosive devices online and was on a US no-fly list, The New York Times reported late on Wednesday, citing an unnamed US official.

    Since midnight the man is being searched for across Europe, said de Maiziere. Every hospital in Berlin and the surrounding state of Brandenburg are being searched, the Mail said, as it is believed that the suspect may be injured.

    Amri fled Tunisia to Italy after the 2011 uprising against their ruler Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and spent three years there before travelling on to Germany, a source told the British Daily Mail.

    German federal investigators (BKA) hunting the 24-year-old Amri, warn that Tunisian citizen could be armed and dangerous. They are offering €100,000 reward for information that leads to his arrest.

    He is probably armed, “highly dangerous” and a member of a “large” Islamic organisation and has weapons training abroad, security sources say. Amri was born in the desert town of Tataouine in 1992, a well-known ISIS stronghold close to the Libyan border, according to the Daily Mail.

    Both German dailies Tagesspiegel and Sueddeutsche Zeitung have reported that the suspect should have been deported from the country months ago. It seems that he applied for asylum under different names and managed to get hold of temporary papers under one of his aliases.

    But the Tunisian was taken into custody pending deportation and then released a day later, according to SZ. As a suspect in an investigation over a terror plot, he apparently fell off the radar after he moved from western Germany to Berlin, due to “inter-institutional exchange”, the SZ reported.

    Anis A. had lived in Berlin since February and police in the two federal states had exchanged information on the suspect, the last time in November. The lack of proper scrutiny raises serious questions that will inevitably be asked about how a terror suspect was not stopped before committing this horrendous crime.

    Police are believed to be focussing searches in North Rhine-Westphalia – the industrial region of Germany containing Cologne, Dortmund and Bonn, as the suspect’s ID was issued on the town of Kleve close to the border with the Netherlands and Belgium.

    The terrorist suspect is a known disciple of Abu Walaa, arrested in Hildesheim last month for recruiting radicals into the ranks of ISIS. He was arrested along with five members of a terrorist recruiting network operating on behalf of the so-called Islamic State, according to prosecutors.

    The arrests took place in the states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony. The network recruited and provided logistical support for local volunteers making their way from Germany to Syria.

    France has meanwhile tightened security checks at the German border. The French interior minister sent a memo to all local police authorities asking them “to take all necessary measures to strengthen controls at the Franco-German border, without delay”.

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