This time they have the right man, or at least German authorities hope so. After detaining the wrong man in the confusion surrounding the Christmas market terror attack in Berlin, police found papers in the truck that killed twelve people belonging to a Tunisian national granted asylum earlier. Police now want to grab Anis Amri before he manages to slip out of the country, but no one seems to have any idea where he is:
Law enforcement sources told CBS News that police are searching for Anis Amri, a native of Tunisia. The sources said Amri left personal documents in the truck that rammed into the market on Monday, killing 12 people and injuring nearly 50 others. German media outlets have identified the Tunisian man as an asylum seeker who was registered in the North Rhine-Westphalia in Western Germany.
In what appears to be the first big break since this investigation began, law enforcement sources said they found the suspect’s ID and asylum papers under the driver’s [seat.] Amri, believed to be 23 or 24 years old, was known to police. The suspect is probably armed, obviously dangerous, and the hunt is on to find him, reports CBS News correspondent Charlie D’Agata. …
The hunt for the killer — or killers — took on an added urgency after ISIS claimed responsibility.
German police released the photo of Amri, but German police curiously pixilated the eyes in both photographs. Perhaps they’re concerned that they may not yet have the right suspect, and after the initial arrest, it’s not hard to blame them for that. However, media organizations are also blasting the man’s name out globally while identifying him as a suspect, so … [see update/correction below]
If Amri is the terrorist, he’s gotten a two-day start on police. The assumption would be that he’d try to make his way to Syria or Libya, given that ISIS has taken credit for the attack, but transit to ISIS-held territory has become a lot more difficult over the past few months. The Paris attackers holed up in place and eventually got caught, so that’s not exactly a great plan, either. He’s likely on the run within the EU to friendlier territory — perhaps in Belgium or France, where the banlieus might shelter him for a prolonged period of time.
In the meantime, as D’Agata reported last night, Angela Merkel has a lot of explaining to do. Germans cheered her refugee policies at first, but they’re starting to ask tough questions about them now, and the answers won’t help calm anyone down.
Update: On further reflection, maybe CBS is right to be a little skeptical. Why would a terrorist stick his identification papers under the seat before the attack? If he wanted to be identified, he could have just surrendered after the attack. This might be another wild-goose chase, but German police have to run down every lead no matter how fishy it might be. Planting false ID in the truck would be a good way to delay the police and get an even bigger head start, though.
Update/correction: Originally I thought CBS had pixilated the picture. For some very strange reason, the police did. That’s a strange way to get people to spot a suspect. My apologies to CBS News for my error.