Berlin Christmas market attack suspect: Who is Anis Amri?
Anis Amri is likely the most wanted man in Europe right now.
Though several people could have been involved in Monday’s attack on a Berlin Christmas market that left 12 people dead and 48 injured, Amri is the only suspect who’s been publicly identified.
The 24-year-old Tunisian is considered violent and believed to be armed.
Here’s what we know about him.
Amri is one of four children, according to a man who claimed to be his father.
The man said in an interview on Tunisian radio that Amri left for Italy about seven years ago after dropping out of school.
While in Italy, he served four years in prison after he was involved in an arson attack on a school, his father said. Amri left for Germany more than a year ago, he added.
The elder Amri said he was not in touch with his son, though the younger Amri maintained sporadic contact with his siblings.
A spokesman for the Italian state police, Mario Viola, told CNN that Amri’s jail term for damaging state property, assault and arson at the Lampedusa refugee center began in late 2011. He was released in May 2015.
Amri entered Italy in February 2011 without any ID and claimed to be a 17-year-old minor, according to the spokesman. Italian authorities ordered his deportation, but Tunisian authorities wouldn’t accept the request on the grounds of a lack of proper documentation, Viola said.
At that point, Italian authorities told Amri to leave the country, and officials lost track of him, according to Viola. Amri was “not suspected” of terrorism at the time and was considered a “petty criminal,” Viola said. The Tunisian came to Italy at the same time as thousands of others amid the turmoil of the Arab Spring, he said.
Amri was believed to have gone to Germany in July 2015 and had traveled between Berlin and other cities — but was mostly in Berlin since February, said Ralf Jaeger, interior minister of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Amri requested asylum in Germany but was denied, according to Jaeger.
Deportation proceedings were started but were not completed because Amri’s identity could not be definitively established, according Stephan Mayer, a spokesman for the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union parliamentary group.
While in Germany, authorities had their eye on Amri — he was believed to be in touch with radical Islamists, including a recruitment network for ISIS operating in Germany, German security officials told CNN.
The main figure in the network, Ahmad Abdulaziz Abdullah — a 32-year-old Iraqi national also known as Abu Walaa — and four others were arrested and charged with terrorism offenses in November.
Jaeger said he could not confirm a link to Abu Walaa.
Amri — who is believed to have gone by six different aliases, according to authorities — also showed up on the radar of German police because he was looking for a gun, one German security official said.
In August, he was arrested with forged documents in the southern German town of Friedrichshafen en route to Italy, the security official said.
But a judge later ordered his release.
Inside the truck that plowed through the Christmas market, authorities found a Polish man shot dead and a set of identity papers belonging to Amri.
The slain driver may have been involved in a struggle with the suspect inside the truck’s cabin before being shot, CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank said. The papers could have been dropped during some sort of altercation.
Authorities publicly identified Amri on Wednesday, releasing pictures of him and offering a reward of up to 100,000 euros (about $104,000) for information on his whereabouts.
Germany’s federal prosecutor said raids were taking place Thursday in cities across Germany. One was in Emmerich, in North Rhine-Westphalia, at a refugee shelter where Amri reportedly stayed before moving to Berlin.
No arrests have been made so far, the prosecutor told CNN.
Police also carried out a number of raids in the region on Wednesday, a German security official told CNN.
ISIS claimed it inspired the attack. The terror group’s affiliated Amaq News Agency described the perpetrator as a “soldier of the Islamic State” who had acted in response to calls for attacks in the West.
German authorities have not publicly named any of the victims of the truck attack.
But Israel’s Foreign Ministry said Thursday that a 60-year-old Israeli woman — Dalia Elyakim — had died. Her husband, Rami Elyakim, was seriously injured. The embassy is working with the family to bring the woman’s body back to Israel for burial, the ministry said.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin vowed that Israel would fight terrorism, saying, “We will remain united and determined in the face of this murderous terror which strikes across the world, and we will fight relentlessly against extremism and hatred.”
Italy’s Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that Italian national Fabrizia Di Lorenzo was missing following the attack and that her family was now in Berlin. The ministry said it was waiting for German investigators to complete their work before issuing a statement.
Italy’s ANSA news agency reported that the missing woman, 31, worked in Berlin and that her cell phone was found at the attack scene.