Security jitters

Germany blast: Syrian bomber 'loyal to ISIS'

Amaq News Agency posts a still photograph of alleged Ansbach bomber, SITE Intelligence Group says.
Police officers at the scene of Sunday night's suicide bombing in Ansbach, Germany, yesterday. The attacker wounded 15 people when he set off the bomb in his rucksack outside a music festival, killing himself.
Police officers at the scene of Sunday night's suicide bombing in Ansbach, Germany, yesterday. The attacker wounded 15 people when he set off the bomb in his rucksack outside a music festival, killing himself.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Asylum-seeker pledged allegiance in video before blowing himself up, wounding 15

ANSBACH (Germany) • A Syrian asylum-seeker who blew himself up outside a German music festival had made a video pledging allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group, the authorities said yesterday.

The 27-year-old assailant wounded 15 people, four of them seriously, when he set off a bomb in his rucksack, killing himself, reported Reuters. The attack in the southern city of Ansbach on Sunday night was the fourth in Germany in a week.

"A video made by the assailant was found on his mobile phone in which he threatened an attack," Mr Joachim Herrmann, Interior Minister of Bavarian state, told reporters yesterday. "After that, he announced in the name of Allah that he pledged allegiance to (ISIS chief) Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the well- known Islamist leader, and announced an act of revenge against Germans because they were standing in the way of Islam."

ACT OF REVENGE

A video made by the assailant was found on his mobile phone in which he threatened an attack. After that, he announced in the name of Allah that he pledged allegiance to (ISIS chief) Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the well-known Islamist leader, and announced an act of revenge against Germans because they were standing in the way of Islam.

BAVARIAN STATE INTERIOR MINISTER JOACHIM HERRMANN

ISIS' Amaq news agency said yesterday that the bomber was one of its soldiers. "He carried out the operation in response to calls to target countries of the coalition that fights the Islamic State (in Iraq and Syria)," it said.

BBC reported that more bomb- making material was found in the bomber's flat, including petrol, hydrogen peroxide and batteries.

Police said the suicide bomber intended to target the open-air festival, but was turned away as he did not have a ticket, and detonated the device outside a nearby cafe. "If he had made it inside, there would certainly have been more victims," a police spokesman was quoted as saying by Agence France-Presse.

The incident will fuel growing public unease about German Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door refugee policy. More than a million migrants have entered Germany over the past year, many fleeing war in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq.

 

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere yesterday cautioned Germans against indiscriminately branding all refugees a security threat after a rash of attacks over the last week.

"We must not place refugees under general suspicion, despite individual cases that are under investigation," he said in an interview with the Funke media group.

Mr de Maiziere said Germany will boost its police presence at airports and train stations, and carry out stop-and-search operations close to border areas.

"What seems particularly important to me at the moment is an increased police presence in public spaces," he told a news conference in Berlin. "I have therefore ordered that the federal police visibly increase their presence at airports and railway stations and that there are random checks, which are not visible but very effective, in border areas."

Mr Herrmann said the spate of attacks raised serious questions about Germany's asylum law and security nationwide. He was planning to introduce measures at a meeting of Bavaria's conservative government today to strengthen police forces, in part by ensuring that they have adequate equipment.

The attacker, who came to Germany two years ago but had his asylum claim rejected after a year, tried to kill himself twice in the past and spent time in a psychiatric clinic, according to the authorities, reported Agence France-Presse.

He was already known to police, having been linked to a drug-related offence.

He was facing imminent deportation to Bulgaria, where he was first registered within the European Union as an asylum seeker, a German Interior Ministry spokesman said.

Germany's federal criminal police have 410 leads on possible terrorists among refugees here, a local newspaper reported yesterday. Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung said investigations have been launched in 60 of those cases, reported Reuters.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 26, 2016, with the headline 'Germany blast: Syrian bomber 'loyal to ISIS''. Print Edition | Subscribe