Investigators report that they found Amri’s ID papers, mobile phone and fingerprints inside the truck that was used in the horrific attack. The Islamic State press agency has published a video, probably recorded a few weeks ago, in which Amri swears allegiance to the organization and calls for “attacks on unbelievers.”
Amri may well have been responsible for the attack. However, the event itself remains obscure, and the extraordinary circumstances behind the attack raise many questions. It is now clear that security services were well aware that Amri was planning terrorist attacks. He had been in prison in Italy, was arrested in Germany and put under surveillance for months. Although the legal basis existed, the security and judicial authorities refused to detain him.
Morevoer, given the manner in which the event is being used to weaken the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel and shift German politics even further to the right, it would be a mistake not to consider the possibility that sections of the state were involved in some manner—if not in directing the attack, then in creating the conditions in which Amri was allowed to proceed.
At this time, the security services also knew from monitoring telephone calls and internet chats that Amri was planning something dangerous. According to broadcaster Bayrische Rundfunk, in March this year the risk register for terrorists contained an entry saying that Amri was seeking to recruit people from throughout Germany to “commit Islamist motivated attacks with him.”
Nevertheless, the federal prosecutor, who had taken over the investigation into the group around Abu Walaa in March 2016, sent the case against Amri to the state authorities in Berlin. The Berlin authorities kept Amri under surveillance around the clock, but in September this year the surveillance was halted under unclear circumstances.
Although his contact with the Abu Walaa group was documented by the secret service, and the Moroccan security authorities had warned their German colleagues in September and October of Amri’s plans for an attack, no action was taken.
Further questions arise from the aftermath of the attack itself. The police immediately arrested an innocent refugee from Pakistan on the basis of dubious eyewitness statements. He was presented as a strong suspect even though there was neither blood nor gunshot residue evidence to link him to the scene.
Only after media reports leaked out that Amri’s ID papers had been found in the truck did investigators admit that the refugee was innocent and that they were looking for Amri. On Friday, following a renewed inspection of the truck, it became known that Amri’s mobile phone had also been found.