Newsbud Exclusive- The Anis Amri Timeline: How German Authorities Allowed a Well-Known Terrorist Suspect to Strike Berlin

Berlin Christmas Market Attack Raises Questions About Security Failures 

As more details emerge about last month’s Berlin Christmas market attack, German authorities are struggling to explain why they failed to prevent the attack despite knowing full well that Anis Amri was a ticking time bomb.

“The attack was carried out by a man whom security officials across Germany were very well aware of,” North Rhine-Westphalia’s Interior Minister Ralf Jäger acknowledged at a January 5 meeting of the state’s parliamentary interior committee in Düsseldorf.[1]

Jäger pointed out that top federal and regional security officials discussed the potential danger posed by Amri seven times at the Joint Counter-Terrorism Center (GTAZ) in Berlin in the months before the attack.[2]

Counter-terrorism experts rated the 24-year-old Tunisian national a “five” on the eight-point scale used to assess an individual's potential danger, with “one” representing the highest threat. This proved to be a fatal mistake.

Nevertheless, the Interior Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia defended the actions taken – or not taken – by security authorities. Jäger emphasized that “in a constitutional state, we can't simply lock up threats as a precautionary measure.”

Dieter Schürmann, the head of the State Criminal Police Office (LKA) in North Rhine-Westphalia, took the same line, saying the authorities’ findings wouldn’t stand up in court and they had “exhausted all legal powers to the limit to ward off potential dangers.”

Schürmann revealed that German authorities knew of 14 different identities used by Amri to register himself across different states and he laid out a detailed timeline of Amri’s activities in Germany, underlining the authorities’ extensive knowledge about the Berlin killer.[3]

Newsbud translated Schürmann’s Amri timeline and complemented it with additional information to illustrate why it is hard to believe that German authorities “exhausted all legal powers to the limit to ward off potential dangers” and that they didn’t see the Berlin Christmas market attack coming.

Additional information is marked with an asterisk (*).

6 July 2015:

Amri enters Germany illegally and is picked up by police in Freiburg.

22 July 2015:

Amri receives a “Certificate of Registration as an Asylum-Seeker” (BüMA) under the name “Anis Amir” in Karlsruhe.

28 July 2015:

Amri receives another BüMA under the “Mohammad Hassan” in Berlin.

*End of July 2015:

Amri is registered at the Berlin State Office for Health and Social Affairs (Lageso) under the name “Ahmad Zaghoul.” He allegedly punches a Lageso security guard in the face. The case against him is later dropped because “Zaghoul” has disappeared.[4]

3 August 2015:

Amri tells the Central Foreigners Authority (ZAB) in Dortmund that his name is “Mohamed Hassa.”

18 August 2015:

During this time, Amri is assigned to the central accommodation facilities of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia in Hermer and Rüthen as well as the municipal accommodation facility of the town of Emmerich.

*Autumn 2015:

The federal prosecutor’s office launches an investigation into the network of Ahmad Abdulaziz Abdullah A., better known as Abu Walaa, an Iraqi-born hate preacher based in the town of Hildesheim (Lower Saxony). Abu Walaa and his associates are suspected of recruiting people for the Islamic State group and organizing trips to Syria.[5]

*14 October 2015:

The imam of the Fussilet mosque in Berlin, Dagestani-born Gadzhimurad K. alias Murad Atayev, is arrested on suspicion of recruiting people for the Islamic State group and supplying equipment to Islamist groups in Syria. Two of his close Fussilet associates, Ismet D. and Emin F., were arrested on similar charges several months earlier.[6] Gadzhimurad K. described himself as “an information aggregator for the Islamic State” in an interview with Meduza in May 2015. German authorities consider the Fussilet mosque to be a recruitment point and fundraising center for Islamic State fighters.[7]

27 October 2015:

The immigration office of the administrative district of Kleve (North Rhine-Westphalia) informs police that a roommate of “Mohamed Hassa” in Emmerich saw pictures on “Hassa’s” cell phone showing people dressed in black who were armed with automatic rifles and posing with hand grenades.

28 October 2015:

Police launch a so-called “Prüffall Islamismus.” Krefeld police visit the tipster who confirms his statement.

28 October 2015:

Amri gets another BüMA under the name “Ahmed Almasri” at the ZAB Dortmund, assigning him to the accommodation facility Neuss and from there to the municipality of Bestwig.

29 October 2015:

The Foreigners’ Registration Office in Münster issues a BüMA for “Ahmed Almasri,” assigning Amri to the accommodation facility Dinslaken. Afterwards, Amri is assigned to the city of Oberhausen. “Ahmed Almasri” is registered there until 18 May 2016.

*November 2015:

Amri tells an informant of the North Rhine-Westphalia LKA within the Abu Walaa network that he wants to “do something in Germany” and that he can provide a Kalashnikov for an attack.[8]

*Security authorities have at least two informants in the Abu Walaa network.[9]

17 November 2015:

North Rhine-Westphalia security authorities learn that a certain “Anis” wants to carry out attacks with “military weapons” in Germany. Authorities don’t make a connection to the cell phone video.

*According to files shown on ARD-Brennpunkt on December 23, the North Rhine-Westphalia LKA immediately sends its findings to the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA). The files suggest that security authorities already know the real identity of “Anis” at this point and that Amri is placed under surveillance.[10]

December 2015:

The North Rhine-Westphalia LKA informs all security authorities throughout Germany as well as the federal prosecutor’s office about the potential danger posed by “Anis” who is allegedly not identified at this point.

Mid-December 2015:

Amri registers himself under another name as an asylum-seeker in Berlin and is being referred to Hamburg.

16 December 2015:

Meeting at the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) in Berlin. The North Rhine-Westphalia LKA presents its findings about “Anis” and his previous stay in Italy. The BKA contacts Italian authorities and is told that “Anis” is possibly the Tunisian national Anis Amri.

21 December 2015:

Briefing at the Lower Saxony LKA after authorities learn of Amri’s ties to Hildesheim (Abu Walaa). The North Rhine-Westphalia LKA presents its findings.

*December 2015:

Federal investigators begin tapping Amri’s phone as part of the Abu Walaa investigation.

29 December 2015:

Authorities learn that Amri plans to commit a robbery or theft in Berlin. Meeting between North Rhine-Westphalia LKA and Berlin LKA. Berlin police ask the district attorney’s office to launch criminal proceedings, judiciary disagrees.

*January 2016:

The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) notes that Amri travels under different identities to Berlin, North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony and Baden-Württemberg, trying to recruit accomplices to carry out attacks with him. Amri wants to obtain weapons in the French Islamist scene and raise funds with burglaries and robberies, the BfV concludes.[11]

*8 January 2016:

The trial against the head of Fussilet, Ismet D., and the president of the group’s council of elders, Emin F., starts. They are accused of supporting the terrorist group Junud al-Sham in Syria with recruits, money and equipment.[12]

4 February 2016:

The North Rhine-Westphalia LKA participates in a meeting of the Joint Counter-Terrorism Center (GTAZ) in Berlin. Result: the situation makes a “harmful event seem rather unlikely,” the report states. The LKA is told to investigate further.

5 February 2016:

The BKA classifies Amri as a “Gefährder” (someone who poses a serious threat) and informs all security authorities nationwide.

17 February 2016:

Dortmund police classify Amri as a “Gefährder North Rhine-Westphalia” (Islamism). Amri had stayed in Dortmund between 22 January and 12 February 2016.

17 February 2016:
Another meeting at the GTAZ in Berlin. The Berlin LKA wants to take its own measures because of Amri’s repeated stays in the German capital. The BKA agrees to contact Italian and Tunisian authorities. Objective: proper identification of Amri.

19 February 2016:

Another GTAZ meeting. The participants stick to their assessment.

*24 February 2016 to 22 March 2016:

Amri leaves Dortmund for Berlin. A secret informant (working either for the BfV or a State Office for the Protection of the Constitution (LfV)) drives Amri to Berlin. Amri tells the informant that his mission is “to kill on behalf of Allah.” He visits the extremist Fussilet mosque in the German capital. Berlin police keep Amri under surveillance.[13]

24 February 2016:

Investigators learn that Amri wants to meet with an Islamic State sympathizer in Berlin who is supposed to help him with his terrorist plans.

25 February 2016:

The North Rhine-Westphalia LKA proposes to investigate Amri for preparing a “serious state-threatening offense.”

26 February 2016:

Another GTAZ meeting. The participants conclude that there are still no indications of specific dangers after Amri’s stay in Berlin.

10 March 2016:

Amri is no longer classified as a “Gefährder” in North Rhine-Westphalia because he has been living in Berlin since February 24. One day later, Berlin classifies him as a “Gefährder.” Amri is spending the nights at different places in Berlin, he doesn’t register a residence. Amri is still officially registered in Emmerich.

10 March 2016:

The federal prosecutor’s office asks the Berlin public prosecutor’s office to launch investigative proceedings against Amri.

14 March 2016:

The Berlin public prosecutor’s office initiates proceedings against Amri for attempted participation in a homicide. Berlin LKA takes over.

*Mid-March 2016:

Amri is placed under covert surveillance. He is suspected of planning a burglary to raise funds to buy automatic weapons. A covert team follows him and his telephone and computer activities are monitored.[14]

*Investigators note that Amri is gathering information on the internet on how to make pipe bombs.[15]

End of March 2016:  

Amri travels to Dortmund and Oberhausen for a couple of days. He also establishes contacts with the radical Islamist scene there, but investigators don’t receive any information about the planning of an attack or purchase of weapons.

April 2016:

The North Rhine-Westphalia LKA learns that Amri applied for benefits for asylum-seekers in multiple municipalities – with different identities. The LKA files charges against Amri for fraud and false certification, the LKA suggests getting a warrant for his arrest. The district attorney’s office in Duisburg initiates proceedings, but doesn’t want to get an arrest warrant.

*5 April 2016:

Amri is placed under “tight” surveillance in Berlin.[16]

28 April 2016:

Amri files an application for asylum at the Dortmund field office of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF). He poses as “Ahmed Almasri,” Egyptian national. It becomes known that Amri was already assigned to Emmerich under another name.

6 May 2016:

The Berlin LKA no longer classifies Amri as a “Gefährder” because a formal asylum procedure is being initiated in North Rhine-Westphalia.

10 May 2016:

Essen police classify Amri again as a “Gefährder.”

25 May 2016:

Wiretapping of Amri, which began in December 2015, is called off after six months. Amri allegedly served as a “disseminator of information” for one suspect (Abu Walaa), but he is not being charged in the case. The wiretapping is halted because Amri’s contacts with the suspect become less frequent.

*14 June 2016:

Gadzhimurad K. is sentenced to two and a half years in prison for recruiting fighters for the Islamic State group.[17]

*The Fussilet mosque, referred to as “mosque of the ISIS people in Berlin” by investigators, has still not been shut down. Since 2015, Berlin authorities have been sitting on a rmotion to ban Fussilet, citing a shortage of staff and legal barriers.[18][19]

15 June 2016:

Another GTAZ meeting, the same result: Amri poses no “specific” danger, he should be deported.

*30 June 2016:

The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) rejects Amri’s application for asylum as “clearly unfounded” and declares that he can now be deported. Replacement identity documents from Tunisia are required for his deportation, but the Tunisian government is unresponsive.[20]

*July 2016:

Amri is involved in a knife attack in a row over drugs at a bar in Berlin Neukölln.[21]

30 July 2016:

Amri takes the long-distance bus from Berlin to Zürich. He attracts the attention of federal police during a routine check in the southern German city of Friedrichshafen. Amri conceals his identity, he carries two Italian passports and suspected narcotics. Police detain him. A local court in nearby Ravensburg issues a warrant for Amri’s arrest. He is moved to the local detention center pending his deportation.

1 August 2016:

Amri is released from JVA Ravensburg because the necessary documents are still missing. The Kleve immigration office (North Rhine-Westphalia) had pointed out that authorities are trying to get replacement identity documents from Tunisia, but it would take some time, leaving an application for detention pending deportation with no prospect of success.

18 August 2016:

Authorities lose track of Amri in North Rhine-Westphalia. He was last seen in Dortmund and Emmerich.

*19 September 2016:

The Moroccan intelligence service DGST informs Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND) and the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) that Tunisian national Anis Amri intends to commit a terrorist attack in Germany.[22][23]

*21 September 2016:

Covert surveillance of Amri, which began in March 2016, is halted after six months. The Berlin LKA didn't apply for authorization to continue active surveillance of Amri after September 21.[24] Surveillance showed that Amri was working as a small-time drug dealer in Berlin and that he was involved in a knife attack over drugs, but allegedly no evidence to substantiate the original warning.[25]

26 September 2016:

Tunisian and Moroccan security authorities inform the North Rhine-Westphalia LKA that Amri is an Islamic State supporter, that he is in contact with suspected Tunisian terrorists in Libya, “wants to carry out a project” in Germany and is staying in Berlin. German authorities receive similar information on October 14 and October 26.

10 October and 27 October 2016:

Police try to find Amri at his registered address in Emmerich, to no avail.

20 October 2016:

Tunisian authorities tell the Central Foreigners Authority (ZAB) in Cologne that Amri – alias Ahmed Almasri – is not a Tunisian national.

21 October 2016:

Interpol Tunis confirms, beyond any doubt, that Amri is a Tunisian national, sharing passport data.

*21 October 2016:

Morocco’s DGST warns Germany again about “the tendencies of Anis Amri and his readiness to perpetrate a terrorist attack.”[26]

27 October 2016:
The Central Foreigners Authority (ZAB) requests passport replacement documents at the Consulate General of Tunisia in Bonn.

28 October 2016:

Amri’s cell phone is located “in the Berlin/Brandenburg region.”

2 November 2016:

Another GTAZ meeting, all authorities are aware of Amri’s stay in Berlin.

*8 November 2016:

Abu Walaa (Islamic State’s “number one in Germany”) and four suspected accomplices are arrested in a series of coordinated raids in Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia.[27]

*November 2016:

The district attorney’s office in Duisburg suspends the fraud case against Amri because no one in Duisburg can track his whereabouts.[28]

5 December 2016:

The Kleve immigration office (North Rhine-Westphalia) deregisters Amri. He has not been staying at his last registered address, the municipal accommodation facility in Emmerich, for some time.

*19 December 2016:

Amri visits the Fussilet mosque in Berlin before putting his plan into action.[29]

19 December 2016:

Anis Amri drives a truck into the Christmas market at Breitscheidplatz in Berlin. Twelve people are killed and 56 others injured.

21 December 2016:

The Consulate General of Tunisia in Bonn sends the passport replacement documents for Amri’s deportation.

*23 December 2016:

Amri is killed in a shootout with police in Milan, Italy.

*9 January 2017:

No one has resigned over the Amri debacle, but “German politicians are falling over each other to come up with new security measures to prevent terrorist attacks.”[30]

# # # #

Christoph Germann- BFP Contributing Author & Analyst
Christoph Germann is an independent analyst and researcher based in Germany, where he is currently studying political science. His work focuses on the New Great Game in Central Asia and the Caucasus region. You can visit his website here

[1] “German officials: Anis Amri used at least 14 identities,” Deutsche Welle, 5 January 2017: http://www.dw.com/en/german-officials-anis-amri-used-at-least-14-identities/a-37029856.

[2] Ruth Bender, “German Officials Met Seven Times to Discuss Berlin Attacker Before Assault,” The Wall Street Journal, 5 January 2017: http://www.wsj.com/articles/german-officials-met-seven-times-to-discuss-berlin-attacker-before-assault-1483640613?mod=e2tw.

[3] “Chronik: Amris Monate vor dem Anschlag,” Westdeutscher Rundfunk, 5 January 2017: http://www1.wdr.de/nachrichten/anis-amri-chronik-100.html.

[4] Matthias Bartsch et al., “Germany Knew Terrorist Was Dangerous But Failed To Stop Him,” Spiegel Online, 5 January 2017: http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/germany-knew-terrorist-was-dangerous-but-failed-to-stop-him-a-1128423.html.

[5] Volkmar Kabisch et al., “"Nummer 1 des IS in Deutschland" festgenommen,” Norddeutscher Rundfunk, 8 November 2016:  https://www.ndr.de/nachrichten/niedersachsen/hannover_weser-leinegebiet/Schlag-gegen-deutsches-IS-Netzwerk,abuwalaa104.html.

[6] “Berlin imam arrested for supporting 'Islamic State',” Deutsche Welle, 15 October 2015: http://www.dw.com/en/berlin-imam-arrested-for-supporting-islamic-state/a-18785981.

[7] Daniil Turovsky, “‘Islamic State is now a global territory’ ‘Meduza’ interviews a prominent ISIL imam based in Berlin,” Meduza, 26 May 2015: https://meduza.io/en/feature/2015/05/26/islamic-state-is-now-a-global-territory.

[8] Georg Heil, Georg Mascolo and Lena Kampf, “Fall Anis Amri: Verpasste Chancen,” tagesschau.de, 3 January 2017: http://www.tagesschau.de/inland/fall-amri-verpasste-chancen-101.html.

[9] “Tod in Mailand – Terrorverdächtiger erschossen,” ARD-Brennpunkt, 23 December 2016: http://www.daserste.de/information/nachrichten-wetter/brennpunkt/sendung/brennpunkt-tod-in-mailand-terrorverdaechtiger-erschossen-100.html.

[10] Ibid., ARD-Brennpunkt.

[11] Ibid., Heil, Mascolo and Kampf.

[12] Karin Hendrich and Anne Losensky, “„Emir von Wedding“ und sein Komplize schweigen vor Gericht,” B.Z., 8 January 2016: http://www.bz-berlin.de/tatort/menschen-vor-gericht/emir-von-wedding-und-sein-komplize-schweigen-vor-gericht.

[13] Ibid., ARD-Brennpunkt.

[14] Fiona Hamilton, “Inquiry into failure of surveillance operation,” The Sunday Times, 23 December 2016: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/inquiry-into-failure-of-surveillance-operation-29njw02bj.

[15] Ibid., Bartsch et al., Spiegel Online.

[16] Ibid., Bartsch et al., Spiegel Online.

[17] “ISIL's information aggregator How a Dagestani refugee became a Berlin imam working for the ‘Islamic State’,” Meduza, 15 June 2016: https://meduza.io/en/feature/2016/06/15/isil-s-information-aggregator.

[18] “Was wissen wir über die Fussilet-Moschee?,” Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg, 23 December 2016: http://www.rbb-online.de/politik/beitrag/2016/12/moscheeverein-fussilet33-moabit-attentaeter.html.

[19] “Berliner Verwaltung: Zu wenig Personal für Verbotsverfahren gegen Moschee-Verein,” Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 23 December 2016: http://www.faz.net/berliner-verwaltung-personal-fehlte-fuer-verbotsverfahren-gegen-moschee-verein-14589817.html.

[20] Ibid., Bartsch et al., Spiegel Online.

[21] Hannes Heine and Sebastian Leber, “Anis Amris Leben in Berlin: Der Möchtegern-Gotteskrieger,” Der Tagesspiegel, 5 January 2017: http://www.tagesspiegel.de/themen/reportage/anis-amris-leben-in-berlin-der-moechtegern-gotteskrieger/19211204.html.

[22] Ibid., Bartsch et al., Spiegel Online.

[23] Tom Porter, “Morocco 'warned Germany of Anis Amri terror threat weeks before Berlin attack',” International Business Times, 23 December 2016: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/morocco-warned-germany-anis-amri-terror-threat-weeks-before-berlin-attack-1597949.

[24] Melanie Amann et al., “After Terror Attack, Germany Examines Security Architecture,” Spiegel Online, 6 January 2017: http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/after-terror-attack-germany-examines-security-architecture-a-1128917.html.

[25] Ibid., Hamilton.

[26] Ibid., Porter.

[27] “German police arrest five in raid on 'IS network',” BBC, 8 November 2016: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-37906960.

[28] Ibid., Bartsch et al., Spiegel Online.

[29] Florian Flade, Tobias Heimbach and Marcel Leubecher, “Salafisten in Berlin: Amri betete, wo der „Emir von Wedding“ regiert,” Die Welt, 5 January 2016: https://www.welt.de/politik/deutschland/article160881946/Amri-betete-wo-der-Emir-von-Wedding-regiert.html.

[30] Ben Knight, “Germany wrangles over new security measures,” Deutsche Welle, 9 January 2017: http://www.dw.com/en/germany-wrangles-over-new-security-measures/a-37068437.

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Comments

  1. Nothing like a timeline to bring clarity. This seems to be the outcome of all these unpredictable random attacks. ‘Known to authorities’ – ‘they got through the net somehow’. ‘we’re going to need a bigger net’.

    Investigations reveal the suspect(s) got through the net dozens of times. When the news is presented in sound bytes, there is no room for context, which this report gives beautifully. Apparently it’s never incompetence worthy of a sacking. We just need more spying. In this case, they had plenty of data and chose not to act on it – many times.

    They are arresting teenagers in Australia, with SWAT Teams, for bragging on Twitter about ‘doing something’. So what happened to Germany efficiency on this guy who had a rap sheet as long as his arm?

    I reckon if we shut down all the intelligance agencies today, tomorrow would be a very quiet day. And the next…..

  2. victor friese says:

    Pay attention to
    1) a terrorist “let through”
    2) “Oh noezez! Das consteeution ist so evilst!!! We must abandon it for the safety of East German style “security”!

    These law enforcement are just a bunch of terrorist loving cunts. They love terrorists because terrorists give them power. You know, what would happen if someone were to set up a block party about how much terrorism is supporting police state-ism… call it something like “Get crunk for terrorsist loving law enforcement and their soon to be augmented police state powers happy fun time party”… or that in German. Have one of those parties on every monday of the month to celebrate the soon to come “safety”. Wonder if that would change anything.

    Citizens will simply have to start setting up their own intelligence agencies is what is becoming apparent.

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