Desperate German manhunt for Christmas market terrorist focuses on Tunisian

Police patrol inside the Christmas market area and past the destroyed booths two days after an attack with a truck in front of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedaechtniskirche (Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church) in Berlin on December 21, 2016. German police on December 21, 2016 stepped up their hunt for the driver of a truck that ploughed through a Berlin Christmas market, in a deadly assault claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group. ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)

(Fox News) German police are desperately hunting a Tunisian man suspected of Monday’s deadly truck attack on a Christmas market in Berlin, hoping to catch him before he can repeat the monstrous act that left a dozen dead and 48 injured, according to reports.

The 23-year-old suspect’s documents were found inside the cab of the truck used to mow down civilians at the market, and he was identified as going by “Anis Amri” or “Ahmed,” among other suspected aliases, police sources told German media, including Die Welt. Die Welt, along with most other German media outlets, published photos of the suspect. The manhunt took a new focus after police determined on Tuesday that a Pakistani migrant intially detained after the horrific attack, for which ISIS has claimed credit, proved to be innocent.

“We don’t know for sure whether it was one or several perpetrators,” said Germany’s top prosecutor, Peter Frank. “We don’t know for sure whether he, or they, had support.”

Amri reportedly has extensive links to militant Islam.

He arrived in Germany in July 2015 as an asylum-seeker and was considered part of the “Salafist-Islamist scene” by authorities. Amri spent some time in pre-deportation detention in Germany after his asylum application was rejected in June 2016, said Stephan Mayer, a senior lawmaker with Germany’s governing conservatives.

He was registered in an asylum-seekers’ hostel, however, he was known to move around a lot, Der Spiegel reported. At some point earlier this year, authorities classified Amri as a “potential threat.”

He was a follower of the recently arrested Abu Walaa, an Iraqi citizen and preacher who was believed to be one of the top ISIS leaders in Germany, according to Suddeutsche Zeitung.

Die Welt reported that Amri had stayed with another suspected Islamist in Germany, had recently sought to obtain weapons and drew the attention of German officials, who were monitoring his communications.

As part of the manhunt, German authorities have been scouring hospitals after reportedly finding Amri’s DNA inside the truck and concluding that he likely sustained an injury during the Christmas market attack.

Some police raids had been delayed or cancelled due to administrative errors, Die Welt reported.

Adding to authorities’ concerns, the head of the Federal Criminal Police Office said investigators had yet to find a pistol that is believed to have been used to kill a Polish truck driver. That man was supposed to be delivering the steel beams the truck used in the attack was carrying.

ISIS claimed “a soldier of the Islamic State carried out the attack in response to calls for targeting citizens of the Crusader coalition.” The attack, which mirrored the ghastly massacre in Nice over the summer, appeared to follow several of the terror group’s online guides for committing acts of terror using vehicles.
Police in Berlin said they had received 508 tips on the attack as of Tuesday night, and did not say if they were looking for more than one suspect.

Spokesmen for the Tunisian Interior Ministry and Foreign Ministry did not have information about Amri and could not immediately confirm whether the Tunisian government had been contacted by German authorities.

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