Berlin Christmas market attacker 'took selfie near Merkel's home'
Tunisian Anis Amri, who drove a truck into a crowded Berlin Christmas market, took a selfie in front of Chancellor Angela Merkel's apartment in the weeks before the attack, sources close to the investigation confirmed Thursday.
The photo was found on Amri's phone as part of a major probe by federal
police into the deadly 2016 attack, which left 12 people dead and was claimed
by the Islamic State jihadist group.
But it remains unclear whether the image circulating in German media that
shows Amri posing in a hooded black jacket, indicates that the failed Tunisian
asylum seeker had planned to target Merkel.
According to a leaked police assessment seen by ARD television's Kontraste
news programme, the picture was taken almost seven weeks before the Christmas market assault.
Amri's phone also contained other photos of the upscale Berlin-Mitte borough where Merkel and her husband live, known as Museum Island.
The police file notes that Amri could have been canvassing the area, which
also includes Berlin Cathedral, "as a potential target for an attack", ARD
But sources close to the probe told AFP that a special committee looking
into the attack and the intelligence failings around it believed the photos
were taken "without an intent to spy".
Merkel's building was "only visible far in the background", a source said.
Greens lawmaker Konstantin von Notz nevertheless criticised federal police
for not explicitly mentioning the photo in their final report.
"It irritates us very much that not even the possibility of the chancellor's house could have been affected is mentioned in the files," he told ARD.
"We will be asking the security authorities to explain this."
Amri, 24, hijacked a truck and murdered its Polish driver before killing another 11 people and wounding dozens more by ploughing through the festive market in central Berlin on December 19, 2016.
He was shot dead by Italian police in Milan four days later while on the run.
The attack stunned Germany and exposed multiple failings by the intelligence services, who had ended their surveillance of drug-dealing Amri earlier that year.
Since then, German authorities have thwarted seven attacks believed to have
radical Islamist motives, the Federal Crime Office said this week.