Site of the Berlin Christmas market attack. PHOTO/VARIETY
By ABDULHAKIM SHERMAN
The central suspect in the Berlin Christmas market attack had been on the radar of German security agencies since January of this year, because he had links with radical Islamists and sought to buy guns for a terrorist attack.
According to IntelNews, Anis Amiri, 23, left his native Tunisia in 2011, soon after the outbreak of the so-called Arab Spring there. He lived in Italy for three years before arriving in Germany in July 2015. In April of this year, he applied for an asylum in Germany.
According to German authorities, Amiri was arrested multiple times in Tunisia for drug-related offenses. He is also believed to have used at least six different aliases since moving to Europe, and to have claimed to be a citizen of Lebanon and Egypt at different times.
On Wednesday, German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung revealed that Amiri’s cell phone and email accounts had been monitored by German security agencies at least since January of this year.
The decision to monitor his telecommunications was reportedly taken by officials at Germany’s Center for Terrorism Defense (GTAZ). The agency functions as a fusion center for intelligence cooperation between German police and spy services.
The newspaper said that Amiri was deemed suspicious because of his connections with several radical Islamists, who were arrested in Germany in recent months. They include Abu Walaa, a vocal supporter of the Islamic State who was captured in Northern Germany in November.
Anis Amiri wanted over the Berlin Christmas market attack. PHOTO/Bka European Pressphoto Agency
According to anonymous German officials, Amiri had also told friends that he was seeking people to help him purchase weapons and use them to carry out attacks on civilians in Europe.
Last summer, Amiri was involved in a scuffle between rival drug gangs in Berlin, in which at least one knife was used. But he disappeared for several weeks when police tried to question him about it.
He was eventually arrested and questioned by police in Berlin. It was discovered that, according to one German official, Amiri “was highly mobile”, moving between Berlin and northern Germany every few weeks.
But, according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, German authorities did not have enough evidence against him to keep him in detention. Shortly after Amiri’s arrest and subsequent release, German authorities decided to turn down his application for asylum due to security concerns.
He was due to be deported from Germany before December 31. The German police is now offering up to €100,000 for Amiri’s capture.
You can either BECOME A SPONSOR or MAKE A CONTRIBUTION
Nelson Mandela once said: “A critical, independent, and investigative press is the lifeblood of any democracy. The press must be free from state interference. It must have the economic strength to stand up to the blandishments of government officials. It must have sufficient independence from vested interests to be bold and inquiring without fear or favor. It must enjoy the protection of the constitution, so that it can protect our rights as citizens.”
If you like our journalism support us to continue bringing you groundbreaking and agenda setting stories.