By Saagar Enjeti
Suspected terrorist Anis Amri was a known criminal and potential terrorist to several Western intelligence agencies before plowing a stolen truck into a Berlin Christmas market Monday.
Amri is a Tunisian refugee who may have entered Europe as early as 2011. Italian media reports he spent four years in an Italian jail before taking advantage of Germany’s open door policy for refugees. After arriving Amri associated with a known terrorist, and was placed under surveillance for allegedly trying to buy an automatic weapon. He made his livelihood dealing drugs, and was eventually taken off the surveillance list.
Amri was then scooped up in an operation against a prolific ISIS sympathizing preacher, who he previously fell under the spell of. German authorities rejected Amri’s asylum application but did not deport him because the Tunisian government refused to confirm his identity. Amri was subsequently released, and allowed to remain unmolested in Berlin for months.
Along the way Amri was considered so dangerous by U.S. intelligence agencies, he was at one point on a U.S. no-fly list. U.S. officials also say he communicated with the Islamic State via secure messaging apps, and had done research on how to build a bomb.
Amri fell under the spell of a prolific ISIS sympathizing cleric during his time in Germany, and was reportedly given two options. The first option was to join the ISIS caliphate in Iraq and Syria, and the second was to carry out an attack in Germany.
Amri hijacked a Polish steel truck Monday, killing the driver in a prolonged struggle. He eventually got the truck started before eventually getting started. The truck’s GPS route indicates he knew exactly the route to take, and jumped the curb as soon as he got close enough to his selected market.
The polish truck driver’s body was found in the cab after Amri fled. His wife told local media he had hoped to finish his delivery’s early and spend Christmas with his family.
Amri remains at large, with a $100,000 bounty.