Europe’s manhunt for Anis Amri started about 24
hours ago, when German authorities issued an arrest warrant for the driver of the lorry truck that on
December 19 at approximately 8:30 pm deliberately careened into the Breitscheidplatz Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 and wounding
over 48 people. The truck was directed towards a pedestrian area before steering
back to the street, in scrupulous compliance with ISIS’ tactical guidelines on the planning and execution of
vehicle attacks offered in ISIS’ Rumiyah
November edition. The suspect remains at large, although he left behind damning evidence of his identity in the
truck that turned investigations into a feverish multi-agency, international
search for the fugitive.
A 24-year old Tunisian national who disguised his identity through
aliases and counterfeit documents, Anis Amri lived in Berlin
since February 2016 and applied for asylum in April 2016. First known to German
authorities for his supposed links with radical preacher Ahmad Abdellaziz (also
known as Abu Walaa), an Iraqi Salafist arrested on November 8, 2016 for his
role as ISIS recruiter and supporter, Amri was placed under
covert surveillance upon suspicion of plotting an attack on German soil. While
German intelligence and law enforcement authorities flagged Amri as a potential
threat for German security months ago, Amri could not be deported due to his lack of passport
and to Tunisia’s delay in issuing a valid document. Amri was also on a U.S.
no-fly list for his online search for bomb-making material and supposed contact with ISIS affiliates at least once via Telegram.
German intelligence and security agencies remain under high pressure as
the perpetrator was among the hundreds of individuals monitored for links to
radical Islamists, just like in France and Belgium’s most recent attacks.
However, a source quoted by the New York
Times stressed that close surveillance for such a high number of
individuals – 549 for Germany – would entail about 40
agents assigned to each suspect and thus is entirely impracticable. Aside from
the political consequences of this attack in a country set for elections next
year, it appears that Europe’s counterterrorism challenges are rising to a new
level of unpredictability against which security agencies may be powerless.
From The New York Times:
“The failure to keep him in custody
and deport him suggests that Germany, which prides itself on a can-do
efficiency, is suffering the same breakdowns as France and Belgium in allowing
people known to the authorities to carry out acts of horrific violence.
has left Chancellor Angela Merkel even more isolated and embattled for her decision to allow nearly a million
asylum seekers to come to Germany unchecked in 2015.”