For the past twenty-four hours, police in Germany and the rest of Europe have been searching for Anis Amri, a Tunisian national who is suspected of driving a truck through the Christmas market in Breitscheidplatz in Berlin on Monday, killing twelve people. The Pakistani originally arrested for the attack was said to be the “wrong man”, and was later released. A day or so after the attack, police discovered Mr. Amri’s ID under the seat of the truck and initiated a search for him as the primary suspect.
There’s something very smelly about the belated discovery of Anis Amri as the likely culprit. It turns out he has a significant criminal record and has been arrested on multiple occasions. His application for asylum was denied, and when he was picked up by the police back in July, he was placed in a prison cell to await deportation. However, he was released the following day for unknown reasons.
The very convenient belated discovery of his ID in the truck… A criminal record… On a watch list… Released from prison on the orders of the Ministry of the Interior…
Curiouser and curiouser.
Was he a government informant who later decided to mend his ways and wage jihad? Or does the state want to get rid of him for other reasons? An eventual shootout with the police may be the authorities’ preferred outcome in either case.
Or the whole bizarre situation could be exactly what it seems — an immigrant mujahid killed a truck driver, took his truck, and fought jihad in the way of Allah at a Berlin Christmas festival.
Known as a “risk” — and still not deported
In April of this year, [Anis Amri] claimed asylum in Germany. Already in early 2016 he had been investigated for drug offenses. During the summer he was noted [observed but not charged] for dangerous assault. Amri allegedly lingered on the periphery of the Salafist preacher Abu Walaa, who was arrested in the autumn.
He attracted the attention of the police, as he was allegedly recruiting fighters for the Islamic State – and looking for weapons. In so doing, he fell in with an police informant.
Amri temporarily lived with an alleged jihadi in Dortmund. His electronic communications were monitored, according to sources among the investigators.
In Berlin, finally, authorities classified Amri as a “risk” (Gefährder, literally “endangerer”) — a militant Islamist capable of acts of violence.
He was observed in Berlin from March until September.
The investigations concerned information indicating that the Tunisian planned a burglary to get money for the purchase of automatic weapons. “Possibly for later carrying out an attack with accomplices which he yet had to acquire,” the State Prosecutor stated. But the suspicion could not be corroborated.
The more details are known about his case and his stay in Germany, the more absurd it seems that a person with this history could even stay here for that long. Amri was held in a German deportation jail back in the summer 2016, when he was released after just one day, at the request of the Aliens Registration Authority in the North Rhine-Westphalian city of Kleve.
As Matthias Grewe, chief clerk of the district court in Ravensburg, confirmed on Wednesday to the Schwäbische Zeitung, Amri was captured at an identity check in July this year in Friedrichshafen. Since a data check revealed that a deportation order had been recorded by the police, the officers arrested him.
As the arrest was on a Sunday, the on-call judge ordered the that Amri be placed in a deportation detention facility until the next working day. He subsequently entered the penal facility in Ravensburg on July 30.
Its director Thomas Mönig confirms that a person named Anis Amri was imprisoned in his jail on that day. But he stayed for only one day; he cannot provide any information about the later whereabouts of the prisoner, says Mönig. According to District Clerk Grewe, Amri left the Ravensburg prison as a free man. Following the instructions of the Ministry of Justice, he was freed at the request of the Aliens Registration Authority in Kleve.
The Interior Minister of North Rhine Westphalia, Ralf Jäger (SPD), reasoned at a hastily-convened press conference on Wednesday that the Aliens Registration Authority could not carry out the deportation, because Amri had no identification papers. His application for asylum was denied in July.
To be able to deport him, the Aliens Registration Authority applied for a substitute passport via the Tunisian embassy. The Tunisian side initially denied that Amri was their citizen, but then agreed on substitute papers. The bitter irony: the new Tunisian passport arrived precisely this Wednesday in North Rhine-Westphalia, the day when a Europe-wide manhunt was launched for Amri, two days after the bloodbath at the Breitscheidplatz.