The latest from Berlin: Looking for Mr. Amri

A reader following the German press is helping to keep us current on news of the Berlin massacre. The news focuses on the hunt for the Tunisian suspect, Anis Amri, and his telling backstory. Our reader advises that there are several interesting reports in the German media today.

Despite concerns that the document found in the truck used by the terrorist was a feint designed to mislead the authorities, Amri’s fingerprints have been found on the truck. The relevant article in the newsmagazine Focus is posted here.

Die Welt reports that Amri had an extensive criminal record in Italy, for which he was arrested in Catania in 2011 and sentenced to four years in prison. He was found guilty of violent acts, arson, assail, and theft. After he served his term, Italy was unable to return him to Tunisia because his home country was unable to confirm his identity in time. The Italian deportation center in Trapani therefore released him.

Here it gets tricky: Amri was supposedly deported from Italy (but not returned to Tunisia). He moved to Germany in 2015 where he applied for asylum, but his application was rejected (the document attesting to this decision was apparently discovered in the truck in Berlin). This sounds like a variation of a story we have experienced ourselves many times under the immigration regime in the United States.

Focus also reports that the State Office of Criminal Investigation of North Rhine-Westphalia had known since the summer of 2016 that the suspect was planning attacks in Germany. A confidential contact notified the State Office on July 21, 2016 that the suspect had repeatedly spoken of his attack plans in a circle surrounding the now arrested hate preacher Abu Walaa.

Months earlier, this network had unsuccessfully tried to smuggle the suspect to ISIS in Syria. The network did succeed in smuggling a dozen young Muslims to ISIS, although seven candidates failed. The network also transferred EUR 2 million to ISIS. After the State Office got the tip, the suspect disappeared and moved to Berlin, leaving his belongings behind with his brothers in Hildesheim.

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