Anis Amri, the man German authorities say is a suspect in the Christmas market attack in Berlin, was previously under surveillance for allegedly planning a terror plot. The Associated Press reports the previous investigation was opened in March based on a tip:
The tip warned that Amri, who was considered a potential threat by authorities in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, might be planning a break-in to finance the purchase of automatic weapons for use in an attack.
Surveillance showed that Amri was involved in drug dealing in a Berlin park and involved in a bar brawl, but no evidence to substantiate the original warning. The observation was called off in September.
Amri was a refugee whose request for asylum was denied over the summer. He was scheduled to be deported months ago but he had multiple identification documents with different ages which wound up delaying the process. From the Telegraph:
The suspect in the Berlin terror attack was supposed to be deported from Germany but could not be, because he had no valid identity document that could be used to prove he was Tunisian, a senior German official has said.
Ralf Jäger, the interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia state, has been speaking about the suspect, who lived in the state for some time…
Mr Jäger said that the suspect had been in Germany since July 2015. His claim for asylum was rejected in June this year but the authorities were unable to deport him as they could not prove his identity.
German authorities requested Tunisia issue him with a new passport or laissez-passer two months ago. Tunisia initially denied that he was Tunisian but document arrived on Wednesday – two days after the attack.
Given the prior arrest which turned out to be in error, it’s still possible police could by mistaken about the driver’s identity. That said, this is really shaping up as a worst case scenario for German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The fact that he was already under surveillance for possible terror connections and that he should have been deported months ago suggest that, contrary to Merkel’s famous “we will manage” phrase, Germany can’t actually manage this and keep its citizens safe.