Germany: killer on the run

Security: Armed police patrol among people at the re-opened Christmas market at Breitscheidplatz as Germany remains on high alert

Security: Armed police patrol among people at the re-opened Christmas market at Breitscheidplatz as Germany remains on high alert

  • Police continue to hunt for failed Tunisian asylum seeker Anis Amri in connection with Berlin terror attack
  • Fingerprints on wheel and ID under seat in truck used in Monday’s attack where 12 died and 48 injured 
  • US officials say Amri researched bomb-making, communicated with ISIS and barred from flying to America 
  • Wire-taps revealed he had told hate preacher who would volunteer as suicide bomber but still not arrested
  • Security services face difficult questions after it emerged that he should have been deported months ago
  • Lifelong criminal was jailed for four years in Italy and convicted of aggravated theft with violence in Tunisia 
  • Authorities say the 24-year-old  has at times used six different aliases and three different nationalities 
  • Officials have denied reports four people with links to the suspect have been arrested in Dortmund today

The Tunisian asylum seeker on the run from police across Europe left his fingerprints on the steering wheel of the lorry used to murder 12 people at a Berlin Christmas market, it was revealed today.

Anis Amri, 24, also left fingerprints on the door and his wallet under the driver’s seat in the hijacked truck before it sent people flying like pins in Breitscheidplatz on Monday night.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said there is a ‘high probability’ that the chief suspect is ‘really the perpetrator’.

He said: ‘In the cab fingerprints were found and there is additional evidence that support this’, adding: ‘It is all the more important that the search is successful as soon as possible.’

Angela Merkel stood next to him as he made the announcement and said she was confident Amri would be arrested ‘soon’ – despite police and security services bungling the initial investigation.

The Chancellor added she was ‘proud of the calm response’ to the Berlin attack.

In other news:

Video: Terrorists recruit children to carry out bombings in Europe

Ricardo Baretzky, President, European Centre for Information Policy and Security and international counter-terrorism specialist comments on the story.

Path to Germany: Amri fled Tunisia to avoid jail but was imprisoned in Italy for rioting in an immigration centre. He still managed to get to Germany after his release. He has been repeatedly arrested and watched but vanished two weeks ago

The Tunisian asylum seeker on the run from police across Europe left his fingerprints on the steering wheel of the lorry used to murder 12 people at a Berlin Christmas market, it was revealed today.

Anis Amri, 24, also left fingerprints on the door and his wallet under the driver’s seat in the hijacked truck before it sent people flying like pins in Breitscheidplatz on Monday night.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said there is a ‘high probability’ that the chief suspect is ‘really the perpetrator’.

He said: ‘In the cab fingerprints were found and there is additional evidence that support this’, adding: ‘It is all the more important that the search is successful as soon as possible.’

Angela Merkel stood next to him as he made the announcement and said she was confident Amri would be arrested ‘soon’ – despite police and security services bungling the initial investigation.

The Chancellor added she was ‘proud of the calm response’ to the Berlin attack.

Police raided a mosque in Berlin this evening using stun grenades and blowing open the door. Residents reported hearing gunfire.

The target was the ‘Fussilet 33’ association’s building Perleberger Straße – which was raided in 2015 over allegations they were raising money for extremists in Syria. An imam was put under investigation.

This morning they raided properties across Germany, including a refugee centre, but have not found Europe’s most wanted man.

Today it was revealed Amri, who has a 100,000 euro bounty on his head, offered himself up as an ISIS suicide bomber and took a sinister video of himself walking the streets of the German capital.

The 24-year-old, who has six aliases, three fake passports and repeatedly tried to change his appearance, was also learning how to make bombs and was barred from flying to America, US officials have revealed.

One of his Facebook accounts only contains a picture of a lion – a key motif used by jihadists to symbolise honour – and a single video of himself walking through the centre of Berlin in September.

German media claim it could have been a reconnaissance video.

Wire taps revealed that two months ago Amri had told a hate preacher that he was willing to blow himself up – and had also inquired about buying automatic weapons from a police informant. But German officers still did not believe they had enough evidence to arrest him, according to Spiegel.

An Israeli woman, Dalia Elyakim, and 31-year-old Fabrizia Di Lorenzo of Italy were among the 12 killed in the market attack, their countries said. Ms Di Lorenzo had lived and worked in Berlin for several years. Two Americans were among the wounded, US state department spokesman John Kirby said.

Officers have been carrying out raids across Germany as the international manhunt continued for the failed Tunisian asylum seeker with German police under fire for a string of blunders that let him go free.

Four men were arrested in Dortmund – where Amri once lived with a hate preacher. The men have reportedly had close contact with him in recent months.

Bomb scare halts underground and shuts shopping centre  – and police raid a coach

Police secures the area near the Schoenhauser Allee shopping mall in Berlin

Police secures the area near the Schoenhauser Allee shopping mall in Berlin

Berlin’s underground system was halted after suspicious package was found.

All trains wee suspended because of an item reported to police at Prenzlauer Berg in north-east of the city.

The shopping centre next door was also closed as a precaution.

Police are in Schönhauser Allee and traffic has been stopped.

German police also searched a coach in the southwestern town of Heilbronn on Thursday, newspaper Heilbronner Stimme reported, adding that the search was apparently linked to the hunt for the suspect in the Berlin Christmas market attack.

Stimme later tweeted that the all-clear had been given in Heilbronn and that a mix-up had led to the connection being made with the attack suspect.

A flat was also raided in Berlin, but was empty, and a shelter for asylum seekers was searched in Emmerich, eastern Germany, where one man was questioned.

The 24-year-old, who has a 100,000 euro reward on his head, was under the surveillance of German intelligence for several months following his arrival in the country in 2015.

He had been arrested three times this year and his asylum application was rejected – but deportation papers were never served and he disappeared.

MailOnline can also reveal that he first dodged prison in his native Tunisia around five years ago after fleeing following a violent robbery. He was jailed for five years in absentia.

He arrived in Italy in 2011 and pretended to be a child migrant – even though he was 19 – but then rioted inside his detention centre, which was set on fire. He was then jailed for four years.

After his release Italy failed to deport him twice because Tunisia refused to take him back and he fled Italy for Germany, arriving in July 2015.

He was under investigation for planning a ‘serious act of violence against the state’ and counter-terrorism officials had exchanged information about him last month.

Reports suggest intelligence services might have even lost track of Amri as recently as just a few weeks ago after he went underground.

Relatives of prime suspect Anis Amri have urged him to turn himself in to police.

Amri, who turned 24 today, is understood to have left Tunisia in the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring uprising and spent time in Italy before entering Germany last year.

His asylum claim was rejected and authorities identified him as a threat before the Berlin outrage.

His brother Abdelkader Amri told the Associated Press: ‘I ask him to turn himself in to the police. If it is proved that he is involved, we dissociate ourselves from it.’

His father Mustapha says his son must be punished if he was behind the atrocity and said he son was a drug-taking criminal.

He told The Times: ‘He dropped out of school and travelled to Italy; he was involved in a robbery and a case of burning down a school and camp.

‘He spent four years in jail in Italy where he met extremist groups which attracted him. He drank with his friends, which led to his arrest several times. His name also came up in many court cases regarding his use of cannabis, robbery and violence.’

Amri's family, who remain in Tunisia, were questioned by local police as his siblings condemned acts of terrorism, saying Amri 'deserves every condemnation' if he is guilty of the massacre. His father Mustapha is pictured above at his home in Oueslatia

Amri’s family, who remain in Tunisia, were questioned by local police as his siblings condemned acts of terrorism, saying Amri ‘deserves every condemnation’ if he is guilty of the massacre. His father Mustapha is pictured above at his home in Oueslatia

Abdelkader Amri, the brother of 24-year-old Anis Amri, and his heartbroken mother Nourhane Amri, break down in tears as they urge him to hand himself in

Nourhane Amri poses with a portrait of her son Anis Amri

Family: Abdelkader Amri, the brother of 24-year-old Anis Amri, and his heartbroken mother Nourhane Amri poses with a portrait of her son Anis Amri

German authorities have revealed there is a 100,000 euro (£84,000) reward for information leading to his capture

German authorities have revealed there is a 100,000 euro (£84,000) reward for information leading to his capture

A market worker stands in front of a makeshift memorial near the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedaechtniskirche Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

A market worker stands in front of a makeshift memorial near the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedaechtniskirche Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

Protection: A workman helps to place a concrete barrier outside the Christmas market at Breitscheid square in Berlin

Protection: A workman helps to place a concrete barrier outside the Christmas market at Breitscheid square in Berlin

Riot police detain a demonstrator during a vigil of right-wing groups in front of the CDU federal centre in Berlin. The protesters had been hitting out at German Chancellor Angela Merkel after the market attack

Riot police detain a demonstrator during a vigil of right-wing groups in front of the CDU federal centre in Berlin. The protesters had been hitting out at German Chancellor Angela Merkel after the market attack

Supporters of the far-left movement hold placards depicting a heart and a banner reading 'Berlin is better without Nazis' as they hold a demonstration

Supporters of the far-left movement hold placards depicting a heart and a banner reading ‘Berlin is better without Nazis’ as they hold a demonstration

A protester holds a sheet reading 'Death to Fascism' during an anti right-wing demonstration near the scene of the attack

A protester holds a sheet reading ‘Death to Fascism’ during an anti right-wing demonstration near the scene of the attack

A steady stream of mourners have visited the scene of the atrocity, with many leaving flowers and candles on the ground

A steady stream of mourners have visited the scene of the atrocity, with many leaving flowers and candles on the ground

A group of refugees from the Tempelhof emergency shelter were seen laying flowers near the site of the attack

A group of refugees from the Tempelhof emergency shelter were seen laying flowers near the site of the attack

Manhunt: The ISIS killer behind Germany's worst terror attack since 1980 on Monday night has been given an 18 hour head start after police bungled the probe - Amri's blood may have been in the cab and believe the driver is injured

Manhunt: The ISIS killer behind Germany’s worst terror attack since 1980 on Monday night has been given an 18 hour head start after police bungled the probe – Amri’s blood may have been in the cab and believe the driver is injured

On Monday night, the Tunisian radical – who has used six different aliases and three different nationalities – is believed to have driven a 40-tonne truck through a Christmas market, killing 12 and injuring dozens.

Germany has 7,000 terror suspects and finds it ‘impossible’ to monitor them all

Germany is finding it ‘almost impossible’ to keep track of around 7,000 potential terror suspects in the country, a former British intelligence chief has warned.

Richard Barrett, who was head of counter-terrorism at MI6, said the authorities were finding the number of ‘live’ cases unmanageable.

The grim assessment came as German security services face difficult questions following the Berlin Christmas market massacre.

A European arrest warrant issued for Amri reveals the fugitive has used at least six different aliases under three different nationalities. Photographs show how he has changed his appearance over the years.

Mr Barrett, who was in a key role at MI6 when the September 11 attacks took place in 2001, said it was not surprising that some extremists slipped through the surveillance net.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme there were 550 ‘really extreme potential terrorists on the books’ in Germany.

‘In addition to that though if you include all the Lander (local regions) in Germany they have about 7,000 live cases,’ he said.

‘As you can imagine, that is an almost impossible number to control.

He said the wider group of suspects were people who had ‘come to attention in this context of radical extremism’ and were ‘worthy of investigation’.

German media are reporting that the fingerprints of Tunisian suspect Anis Amri have been found on the truck that was driven into a Christmas market in Berlin.

Daily newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung and broadcasters NDR and WDR reported Thursday that Amri’s fingerprints were found on the driver’s door of the Polish-registered truck. The daily Berliner Zeitung reported that his fingerprints were found on the steering wheel.

It has since emerged that he was on the radar of US agencies who say Amri researched bomb-making online and was barred from flying to America having communicated with ISIS using the Telegram messaging service.

Meanwhile, an Israeli woman, Dalia Elyakim, became the first named victim of the attack. She was standing with her husband Rami when the truck rammed into them.

Last night it emerged that Amri also tried to recruit an accomplice for a terror plot – which the authorities knew about – but that he still remained at large.

The potentially fatal mistakes heaped further shame on the German security services, who wasted several hours questioning an innocent Pakistani asylum seeker in the aftermath of the truck rampage, which killed 12 shoppers and wounded 48.

German police are in a desperate race to detain Amri, described as being probably armed and ‘highly dangerous’ before any further terrorist attack.

A senior foreign German politician today blamed the atrocity on ‘institutional political correctness’, arguing that Amri would not have been free to act if police had enforced the law.

Meanwhile a European arrest warrant issued for Amri reveals the fugitive has used at least six different aliases under three different nationalities. Photographs show how he has changed his appearance over the years.

Yesterday his family, who remain in Tunisia, were questioned by local police as his siblings condemned acts of terrorism, saying Amri ‘deserves every condemnation’ if he is guilty of the massacre.

Amri became Europe’s most wanted man after his identity papers were found in the footwell of the lorry used in the atrocity.

Last night it emerged that Amri’s application for asylum was turned down last summer because he did not possess the correct papers.

But under a peculiarity of the German asylum system he was granted ‘toleration’ papers allowing him to stay temporarily, for unknown reasons. He was due to be deported before the end of the year.

The German authorities were in touch with their Tunisian counterparts to get him a passport so he could be sent home. But Tunisia reportedly said it had no record of him being a citizen.

The country has now been accused of delaying his extradition as it emerged new ID papers only arrived in Germany two days after the carnage.

He was put on a danger list shortly after arriving in Germany in June last year, which meant authorities considered him prone to extreme violence. Yet just how much surveillance he was under remains unclear.

CHANGING FACES OF PRIME SUSPECT ANIS AMRI

A European arrest warrant issued for Amri reveals the fugitive has used at least six different aliases under three different nationalities. Here, four photographs show how he has changed his appearance over the years:

Amri, who was born in the desert town of Tataouine in 1992 – a well-known ISIS stronghold close to the Libyan border - was apparently recently arrested for GBH but vanished before he could be charged. He was also found with a fake passport

Amri, who was born in the desert town of Tataouine in 1992 – a well-known ISIS stronghold close to the Libyan border - was apparently recently arrested for GBH but vanished before he could be charged. He was also found with a fake passport

Previous: Amri, who was born in the desert town of Tataouine in 1992 – a well-known ISIS stronghold close to the Libyan border – was apparently recently arrested for GBH but vanished before he could be charged. He was also found with a fake passport

A wanted notice for a Tunisian suspect in the truck attack on a Christmas market in Berlin says the man should be considered armed and dangerous

A wanted notice for a Tunisian suspect in the truck attack on a Christmas market in Berlin says the man should be considered armed and dangerous

Germany’s obsession with privacy let the Christmas market killer escape

A near-total ban on CCTV in public spaces means that German police and security services have no live footage of the Christmas market massacre or the killer driver fleeing the scene, it was revealed today.

Draconian German privacy rules mean filming in public places is largely prohibited – and this year politicians blocked attempts to install cameras on Berlin’s main squares.

It is a backlash against tyrannical control of the population by the Nazis and then state-sponsored surveillance by the Stasi in Cold War East Germany before the Berlin Wall fell.

One German journalist told the Mail: ‘Then, the state knew everything about you. As a result, the public now fears it knowing anything about you.’

Police say it has gone too far and means that the driver of the truck who fled on foot from Breitscheidplatz square cannot be followed on camera.

It even led to panicked officers arresting the wrong man, Pakistani asylum seeker Naveed Baluch, 23, who was seen jumping a red light nearby.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has been at the vanguard of the privacy campaign and this year passed a law banning CCTV in offices to protect employees’ rights.

And long-established data regulations mean that cameras in public places – including Breitscheidplatz square where the terror took place on Monday – is rare. Only railway stations and public transport are exempt.

In June Berlin’s then interior minister tried to change local law to install CCTV where crime levels are highest, including the busy Alexanderplatz but it was sunk by local politicians.

Police say they have been hindered by the lack of CCTV in the and have called for more cameras in the wake of the lorry attack.

Bodo Pfalzgraf of the German police union said: ‘We need better and more intelligent surveillance in public places, and Monday’s tragedy has shown precisely why.

‘We would know a lot more about the perpetrator by now if we had been allowed to install video cameras on Breitscheidplatz square. We couldn’t have prevented the attack, but our investigation would be more advanced by now. CCTV can save lives’.

The German authorities watched Amri for several months this year to try to determine whether he had planned a robbery to fund the purchase of automatic weapons for a possible attack with accomplices. But the covert surveillance operation ceased after the security services could not prove their suspicions, a judicial source said.

In July he was arrested for an unknown offence while travelling on a bus to Berlin, and was later charged with assault for a knife fight over drugs. In August he was arrested for possessing a fake Italian document, but again released.

He had contact with preachers who promoted jihad among young German men who converted to Islam. According to media reports, Amri lived for a time with a hate preacher in Dortmund who is under arrest for his involvement with IS.

He is also known to have attended hate sermons by Abu Walaa, now in custody after being arrested last month for radicalising young men. The so-called ‘faceless preacher’ delivered online video sermons with his back to the camera, often draped in a black hood and cloak.

The preacher, who is believed to have three wives, had 25,000 Facebook followers and even offered his own app in 2014.

Apparently Walaa had wanted to send Amri to Syria. But he did not want to, preferring instead to formulate plans for an attack in Germany.

Another investigator said: ‘Supposedly the evidence was not strong enough to arrest him.’

A Facebook profile in his name shows ‘likes’ linked to Tunisian terror group Ansar al-Sharia, a Tunisian group with followers linked to extremists who murdered 22 at Tunis’ Bardo Museum in March 2015 and then 39 tourists at a beach resort in Sousse.

He was in contact with Islamist militants in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and was known to German security agencies, the state’s Interior Minister Ralf Jaeger said.

As the hunt for Europe’s most wanted man continues, it was revealed that:

Amri, who was born in the desert town of Tataouine in 1992 – a well-known ISIS stronghold close to the Libyan border – is believed to have entered Europe through Italy with Syrian refugees.

His father told Tunisia’s Mosaique FM radio that his son left his homeland about seven years ago, spent four years in a prison in Italy after being accused in a fire at a school there then moved to Germany more than a year ago. Official records suggest he arrived in Italy in 2012 and there are reports that he posed as a minor to sneak his way in to the continent.

Citing security officials, Mosaique FM said Amri had been convicted in absentia for aggravated theft with violence in Tunisia and sentenced to five years in prison. No dates were given.

Tunisian anti-terror police interrogated Amri’s relatives Wednesday in the central Tunisian town of Oueslatia. It is not known how many family members were present.

One of his brothers said Amri deserves ‘every condemnation’ if he is guilty of the Christmas market massacre.

Abdelkader Amri said the family ‘rejects terrorism’ and suggested they would cut ties with fugitive brother Anis Amri if he was found to be behind the atrocity.

He said: ‘When I saw the picture of my brother in the media, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I’m in shock, and can’t believe it’s him who committed this crime.’

But, he added, ‘if he’s guilty, he deserves every condemnation. We reject terrorism and terrorists – we have no dealings with terrorists’.

 Will the lorry killer strike again? Police and the security services are hunting the terrorist behind the Christmas market attack

 Will the lorry killer strike again? Police and the security services are hunting the terrorist behind the Christmas market attack

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