MS Risk Blog

German Interior Minister Warns of Further “Lone Wolf” Attacks

Posted on in Germany title_rule

In the wake of a train stabbing, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere has warned that Germans should be prepared for further attacks carried out by small groups and radicalized “lone wolves.”

On 18 July, five people were wounded, two critically, by a 17-year-old who went on the rampage on a train in Wurzburg in the southern state of Bavaria. According to witnesses, the attacker, who has been named as Muhammad Riyadh, screamed “Allahu Akbar” (God is great) three times. Riyadh, who arrived in Germany last year as an unaccompanied migrant, was shot dead holding an axe and a knife. A video has since emerged, in which he states that he was a soldier of the so-called Islamic State (IS) group. Through its news agency IS has claimed that the teenager was a follower. Authorities found a hand-painted IS flag in his room.

Riyadh had only just moved to a foster family in Wurzburg from a refugee centre at Ochsenfurt, which is located south of Frankfurt. He was described as a quiet boy who had had a work placement in a bakery. He apparently did not display any radical behaviour. Questions however have been raised about whether he was really from Afghanistan, with reports emerging that a Pakistani document was found in his room. It is common knowledge that Afghan refugees are more likely to be given asylum in Germany than irregular migrants from Pakistan, so there have been many cases of migrants pretending to come from Afghanistan. Furthermore, several clues to his origin have also emerged from the video that he filmed before he carried out the attack on the region al train near his home. His use of the Pashto language suggests that he spent at least some time in Pakistan, because of his choice of words. When speaking of Syria, Riyadh chose to use the word Sham, a word that is commonly used in Pakistan. In Afghanistan, Pashto speakers would say Shuria. Furthermore, his choice of term for army is also key as he states, Fauj, which is common in Pakistan, rather than Aurdu, which is the word that is used in Afghanistan.

Interior Minister de Maiziere has since reported that the teenager had been “incited” by IS propaganda, adding however that there was no evidence that he was following the militant group’s orders. Furthermore, Riyadh was unknown to German intelligence agencies and no concrete link has yet been established with IS. The minister has warned that while the government is doing all it can in order to prevent such attacks, there could be no guarantee. The minister described Monday night’s attack as “perhaps half-way between running amok and terror,” adding that “in Germany, we must also expect attacks by small groups or radicalized ‘lone-wolf’ attackers.”

The attack has raised questions about Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door refugee policy. The attack is likely to deepen worries about so-called “lone wolf” attacks across Europe and could put political pressure on Merkel, who over the past year has welcomed hundreds of thousands of migrants to Germany. Unlike neighbouring France and Belgium, Germany in recent years has not been the victim of a major attack by Islamist militants, however security officials have disclosed that they have thwarted a large number of plots.

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