After focusing their attention on the wrong man (a Pakistani refugee who was arrested and subsequently released after authorities cited a lack of evidence), German security forces have finally identified the alleged perpetrator of the horrific Berlin Christmas market truck attack.
Seit einigen Minuten fahndet das BKA mit diesem Plakat nach Anis Amri: pic.twitter.com/dlRx1u1VmR— ZDF heute (@ZDFheute) December 21, 2016
BREAKING: German police say Tunisian suspect in Berlin Christmas Market attack Anis Amri was in touch w/ radical Islamic preacher Abu Walla pic.twitter.com/WKTppd4sXG— Lisa Daftari (@LisaDaftari) December 21, 2016
According to the police in Berlin, 24-year-old, Tunisian-born Anis Amri allegedly drove the truck that killed 12 people on Monday.
Here are 5 things you need to know about Anis Amri.
- Amri sought asylum in Germany after leaving Tunisia in early 2012. He arrived Germany in July of 2015 via Italy. Amri was denied asylum in June and was on track to be deported, but German authorities failed to follow through with the process. During the deportation process, German authorities encountered two logistical hurdles they weren’t able to overcome. First, Tunisia rejected Amri, refusing to take him back. "Tunisia at first denied that this person was its citizen," stated Ralf Jaeger, the interior minister of the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Second, authorities had a hard time properly identifying Amri since he went by so many aliases. Amri’s identification papers reportedly just arrived on Wednesday after the bureaucratic ball was first rolled in August. Amri was detained and released as a result of these security failures. “The new details added to a growing list of questions about whether security authorities missed opportunities to prevent the attack, in which a 25-tonne truck mowed down a crowd of shoppers and smashed through wooden huts selling gifts, mulled wine and sausages,” reports Reuters. “It was the deadliest attack on German soil since 1980.
- Amri was under surveillance for alleged ties to Islamic extremists. “Anis Amri was engaging with extremist salafist circles in Germany,” one German official said, according to The Washington Post. Officials said that Amri had “interacted” with Islamic radical preacher Abu Walaa. Walaa himself was arrested in November after being charged with recruiting young Muslims in Germany to be sent off to fight for ISIS.
- ISIS has already claimed responsibility for the attack, calling the attacker “a soldier of the Islamic State.” It’s unclear at this point if Amri was in direct contact with ISIS members in Syria and Iraq, however German intelligence suspect he has links with an ISIS recruiting cell in Germany.
- Amri left Tunisia as an illegal immigrant and spent time in Italian jail, according to his father. German authorities believe he entered Germany via Italy. Amri’s country of origin has contributed disproportionately to the global jihadist terrorism epidemic. “Tunisia is one of the biggest suppliers of jihadist fighters, with some 5,500 of its nationals believed to be involved in combat in Syria, Iraq and Libya,” explains The Telegraph. Tunisians have been linked to terror attacks in Nice, France and elsewhere in Europe.
- Amri is still on the run. German authorities haven’t caught the terror suspect, but they’ve offered a €100,000 bounty for any information leading to the suspect’s arrest. Amri is considered armed and dangerous. He may have fled Berlin already and crossed over into another European state, thanks to the free movement policy of the Schengen zone.