Tragedy struck Berlin Monday when a semitrailer crashed into a Christmas market full of holiday shoppers. Twelve innocents were killed and dozens more were injured.
The suspect – Tunisian migrant Anis Amri – fled to Italy and was stopped by two police officers on the outskirts of Milan early Friday morning. He pulled out a gun when asked for his ID and shot one of the officers in the shoulder. The other officer immediately shot back, unknowingly killing the “most-wanted man in Europe,” said Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti.
It is unclear just how Amri managed to slip out of Berlin and travel into Italy so quickly. Authorities say he has used several names and nationalities during his travels throughout Europe.
The 24-year-old had a criminal record in Europe and in Tunisia that included hijacking, assault, and arson. He spent four years in an Italian prison, during which authorities submitted a report on his radical behavior.
Italy tried to deport him, but ended up releasing him when Tunisia refused to take him back. Germany tried but failed to deport him when he asked for asylum there a year later.
The Germans linked Amri to an ISIS recruiter and the young main became the subject of a terrorism probe. He was caught researching bomb-making and trying to purchase a gun online, but “officials felt they never had enough evidence to detain him,” reports The Washington Post.
Just a few hours after his death, an ISIS-linked news source published a video of Amri swearing allegiance to the terrorist organization.
“God willing, we will slaughter you like pigs,” he said in the video, which was allegedly filmed less than two miles from the German Chancellery in Berlin. “To my brothers everywhere, fight for the sake of Allah. Protect our religion. Everyone can do this in their own way. People who can fight should fight, even in Europe.”
Monday’s attack in Berlin combined with the July attack in Nice, France and rising crime rates surrounding Germany’s new migrant population have incited a widespread demand for reform and increased security that threatens citizens’ privacy while promising to keep them safe.
Amri’s death may have ended a desperate 72-hour manhunt, but it has also exposed the flaws within Europe’s deportation and migrant methods and open border policies.
“The Amri case raises a number of questions,” said Chancellor Angela Merkel. “We will now press ahead and look into how far state measures need to be changed.”
“If there are others who are guilty or accomplices, we will hold them accountable,” she promised (this will be difficult now that the suspect is dead).
A law that would allow increased video surveillance in train stations and other public places is already in the works. And Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière is pushing an existing policy that would allow Germany to detain rejected asylum-seekers who represent a “danger to public safety.”
“I told the president that we have to significantly speed up the return process and continue to increase the number of returnees,” said Merkel. “We can be relieved at the end of this week that an acute danger has ended. The general threat of terrorism, however, continues to exist, as it has for many years.”