Germany seeks arrest of alleged accomplice in Christmas market attack

Germany has issued an arrest warrant for a suspected accomplice of the attacker who ploughed a truck through a busy Christmas market in Berlin in 2016 and killed 12 people.

Germany seeks arrest of alleged accomplice in Christmas market attack
Breitscheidplatz in Berlin, where the Christmas market attack occurred on December 19th, 2016.

Prosecutors suspect a 32-year-old Tunisian, identified as Meher D., of having been an Islamic State (IS) instructor of the attacker, Anis Amri, and of having pushed him to carry out the attack, the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung and TV channels NDR and WDR reported based on information they acquired from Germany's Federal Court of Justice.

The suspect could be in Libya where he had joined IS in 2015, according to German justice which is looking for him for alleged membership of a terrorist group and complicity in murder, Süddeutsche Zeitung reported. 

Meher D., born in 1985, is said to have left his hometown of Tunis for Libya in 2015 in order to join the terrorist militia IS, according to German investigators. 

In the fall of 2016 D. then took over the role of looking after his Berlin-based compatriot Anis Amri from afar. 

Which rank Meher D. occupies within the IS remains unclear. His current whereabouts are also unknown, though he is still suspected to still be involved in the civil war Libya. 

Through the investigation, Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office has worked with the authorities in Tunisia, but now are also being assisted by Germany's Federal Intelligence Service and American intelligence agencies. The Tunisian judiciary has been searching for Meher D. for some time now.

A spokeswoman for the prosecutor declined to make any comment on the reports.

On December 19, 2016, Amri, a 23-year-old Tunisian killed a dozen people and injured 48 others in the Christmas market attack claimed by IS. Amri was shot dead four days later by Italian police while on the run.


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Anti-Semitism ‘massive problem’ in Germany, says Jewish leader on terror attack anniversary

On the second anniversary of a far-right terror attack at a German synagogue, the German Jewish Council has warned that the government needs to make more efforts to stop the spread of anti-Semitism online.

Anti-Semitism 'massive problem' in Germany, says Jewish leader on terror attack anniversary
A star of David on the roof of the Halle synagogue. Photo: dpa-Zentralbild | Hendrik Schmidt

Two years after a terrorist attack in the east German town of Halle that left two people dead, Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews, said that more needed to be done in the fight against anti-Semitism and right-wing extremism.

“The spread and incitement of hate, for example in the form of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories via social media, is a massive problem,” Schuster told DPA.

On October 9th 2019, a heavily armed right-wing extremist called Stephan Balliet tried to enter the Halle city synagogue on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.

When he failed to do so, he shot a 40-year-old passerby. He later killed a 20-year-old man at a kebab shop. While trying to escape, the 28-year-old injured several people before he was caught by the police.

The city of Halle is commemorating the event on Saturday, with wreaths to be laid at the scene of the crime. Reiner Haseloff, state leader of Saxony-Anhalt, is expected to attend.

Balliet was sentenced to life in prison in 2020 by the Naumburg Higher Regional Court. His sentence will be followed by preventive detention.

Funs for synagogue security

While praising the German government for introducing a law that makes social media companies responsible for hateful content posted on their sites, Schuster said that the legislation needed to be extended to messenger services such as Telegram.

“We must do everything we can to ensure that the internet is not a lawless space,” he said.

According to Schuster, the German government reacted quickly after the Halle attack by providing money to improve security at Jewish institutions.

This was an important step, he said. “However, there is still much to be done at the political and social level to combat growing anti-Semitism.”

SEE ALSO: Four held over foiled ‘Islamist’ attack on German synagogue