Italian police shot and killed a 23-year-old Tunisian refugee they believe was behind the Berlin Christmas market attack.
Anis Amri was already under investigation by police for terrorist links, and video has surfaced of him pledging allegiance to ISIS, CNN said.
Spiegel Online said Amri was identified as having suspected ties to ISIS months ago by German authorities, who decided he needed intensive monitoring. Yet, he was given a stay of deportation, even after allegedly being nabbed with a forged passport.
Amri is an asylum seeker registered in North Rhine-Westphalia, said CBS News.
Authorities found documentation with his name on it inside the cab of the vehicle and a massive manhunt was underway to find him when an Italian officer confronted him in Milan, he pulled out a gun, and a shootout ensued. The New York Post said the documentation included a “stay of deportation.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Police Were Already Tracking Amri for Planning an Attack Before the Christmas Market Tragedy & U.S. Security Officials Were Aware of Him Too, Reports Say
The UK Daily Mail says that German authorities already had Amri on their radar screen before the Berlin Christmas market attack. “He had already been under investigation for planning a ‘serious act of violence against the state’ and counter-terrorism officials last exchanged information about him in November,” the news site said.
There were reports that Amri was also on the radar of U.S. officials.
The Mirror says Amri “has reportedly been linked to Islamist preacher Abu Walaa.” He was born in Tataouine, which Daily Mail described as an “ISIS stronghold.” The Bild newspaper quoted one official as saying, “To our knowledge he was ready in the early part of this year to find an accomplice for an attack and was interested in acquiring a weapon.”
According to the Sun, Abu Walaaa was “arrested in Hildesheim last month for recruiting radicals into the ranks of ISIS. Walaa was arrested along with five members of a terrorist recruiting network operating on behalf of the so-called Islamic State, according to prosecutors.”
Spiegel Online said, “An entry relating to an undercover investigation of the man on Feb. 5 states, ‘Suspected ties with IS’ and ‘intensive monitoring of the subject.’ Earlier this year, the authorities classified the man as a ‘potential threat,’ a category used by police to describe people the authorities believe could attack at any time.”
2. Amri Was Arrested in August With a Fake Passport but Was Not Kicked out of the Country & Shot a Cop When Asked For His Papers
When an Italian police officer in Milan asked Amri for his papers, he began shooting, injuring an officer named Cristian Morio while shouting “Bastard cops.” CNN said Amri had lived in Italy and may have made it through two European borders – in Italy and France – before being killed.
Daily Mail says Amri was arrested in August with a fake Italian passport, and his phone was being monitored, but he was released. According to The New York Post, “Amri had been arrested in the southern town of Friedrichshafen in August with forged documents en route to Italy but was released by a judge.”
The news site said that Amri’s application for German asylum was rejected but he wasn’t deported because he lacked identification papers. The Sun said he arrived in Germany earlier this year. At one point, he even lived with what the Daily Mail termed a “hate preacher” who was “under arrest for involvement with ISIS.”
The Star said Amri was living in temporary housing while waiting a decision on his asylum status.
3. Amri Is Believed to Be Linked to the Terror Group Responsible for a Beach Massacre & Filmed a Video Pledging Allegiance to ISIS’ Leader
The Mirror reported Amri may have ties to “the terror group which allegedly inspired last year’s Tunisian beach massacre which left 38 dead.”
The news agency for ISIS released a video of Amri pledging allegiance to ISIS’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
The Mirror said that organization is the radical Islamist group Ansar Al-Sharia.
4. The Christmas Market Attack Killed 12, Including the Polish Driver of the Truck
The suspect drove the large Polish truck onto the sidewalk, smashing into the crowd, and killing 12 people and injuring 48.
It’s believed the truck was hijacked. The Polish truck driver, Lukasz Urban, was found dead in the truck at the scene.
CBS said the Polish truck had a GPS tracking device and, by 3:45 p.m. on December 20, the day of the attack, “there were indications that Urban was no longer in control of the truck; it was being driven as if the person inside was ‘learning to drive.'”
5. Another Man, a Pakistani Refugee, Is No Longer Believed to Be a Suspect
Police had originally detained another man, a Pakistani refugee, after the attacks, but they now believe he had nothing to do with it, police sources told German news media. They also raided a large shelter for asylum seekers in Berlin, said Samaa-TV.