Berlin attack suspect killed in shootout with Italian police

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Italian Police officers work next to the body of Anis Amri, the suspect in the Berlin Christmas market truck attack, in a suburb of the northern Italian city of Milan, Italy. Photo by Reuters

Italian Police officers work next to the body of Anis Amri, the suspect in the Berlin Christmas market truck attack, in a suburb of the northern Italian city of Milan, Italy. Photo by Reuters

Anis Amri, a Tunisian man who was suspected of crashing a truck into a Christmas market full of shoppers in Berlin, was shot and killed by Italian police in Milan early Friday.

Police say Amri pulled a gun when two officers stopped him in a routine check and asked him for his ID. One of the officers was shot, while a second officer, in response, fatally shot the 24-year-old suspect. Italian police said Amri left Germany after the attack and traveled through France to get to Italy, the Associated Press reported.

Earlier this week, the Islamic State group’s Amaq News Agency claimed responsibility for Monday’s attack, which killed 12 people and wounded dozens of others. ISIS called Amri, who had yet to be identified, a “soldier.” On Friday, it issued a statement, acknowledging Amri’s death.

On Wednesday, German authorities issued a warrant, revealing that Amri has used six different aliases and three different nationalities. It was subsequently revealed that Amri was believed to be part of a larger jihadist network in Germany and that authorities had him under surveillance for six months in March to September this year.

Also, Amri’s asylum application for Germany was rejected in June, and he faced deportation. However, Amri didn’t have proper identity papers that connected him to his home country of Tunisian, meaning German authorities weren’t able to deport Amri. Tunisia also had initially denied that Amri was one of its citizens.

German law enforcement now faces criticism for having Amri on its radar, but failing to ultimately prevent Amri from plowing into a Christmas market in Berlin.

One of the challenging factors was capacity, said Peter Neumann, founder and director of the International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence.

“There are around 550 jihadists in Germany who are believed to be potential terrorists,” he told the NewsHour on Thursday. “In order to surveil a single person 24 hours a day, you need about 20 officials. It’s not possible,” he said.

[Watch Video]

The man suspected of carrying out an attack on a Christmas market was well known to German authorities. Anis Amri was under surveillance for six months and slated for deportation, but his home country refused to accept him. Hari Sreenivasan speaks with Peter Neumann of King’s College about how German authorities could have missed the signals.

Neumann also said that intelligence forces operated on a “state-by-state basis.”

“This guy traveled from a lot of different states to different states, and some of the information may have slipped through the cracks there,” he said.

Hours after Italian police confirmed Amri’s death, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the German government will urgently review its laws and policies and make any necessary changes.

“The case of Amri raises a series of questions, not just about the deed itself but also about the time since he came to Germany in July 2015,” Ms. Merkel said. “We will now examine with urgency to what degree state practices must be changed.”

WATCH: Is Berlin truck attack a turning point for Germany?

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