A 30-year-old Iraqi asylum seeker rammed motorcycles on the A100 highway in Berlin on Tuesday night in a terrorist attack that resulted in six people being injured, three of them seriously, according to German police and prosecutors.
A spokesman for the German prosecutor’s office later said that according to the investigators’ findings, the attack was “Islamist-motivated.”
The Iraqi male driver, identified as Samrad D., has been charged with three counts of attempted murder, according to Czech news portal Echo24.
First, the asylum seeker ran over an off-duty firefighter on a scooter at Innsbrucker Platz who was on his way home from work. The victim, who was transported to the hospital with severe head injuries, had to be resuscitated by responding emergency medical workers.
Police say that Samrad D. then ran over another motorcyclist at Detmolder Straße before finishing his terrorist attack by crashing into two motorcycles with his black Opel Astra on Alboinstrasse, seriously injuring both motorcyclists.
He then stopped the car and got out shouting “Allahu Akbar”, before laying out a prayer rug in front of his smashed vehicle to pray.
Next, he reportedly placed a metal box on the roof of the car and said, “Nobody comes closer or else you’ll die.”
The police pacified the 30-year-old man, arrested him, and transported him to the prison at Tempelhofer Damm.
The highway was largely closed while police searched the car for more explosives. The box placed on the roof of the car did not contain any explosives nor did another box found by the police in the trunk of the car. Overall, no traces of explosives were found in the car.
Asylum seeker was no stranger to police
The asylum seeker is believed to have been radicalized while living at a refugee center in Berlin.
The man has had previous interactions with the police, with Attorney General Margarete Koppers, saying “Since 2018, he has been recorded as a suspect of multiple bodily harm crimes and also an attack on law enforcement officers since 2018. The last act in August 2018 was therefore about an ‘act of resistance in front of a refugee accommodation’.
According to Koppers, this was followed by criminal proceedings which ended with an acquittal by a local court in April 2019.
According to press reports, he also maintained a Facebook page where he claimed he would become a martyr through a car attack at some point in his life.
The section of the A100 highway, which runs through the metropolis, was closed for several hours in the evening, causing traffic jams. Even on Wednesday morning, part of the motorway was closed due to the ongoing investigation.
Ein Autofahrer hat am Dienstagabend mindestens drei schwere Unfälle auf der Berliner Stadtautobahn #A100 verursacht. Sie ist Richtung Neukölln noch immer gesperrt. Ein Autofahrer wurde festgenommen. Die Ermittler halten ein islamistisches Motiv für naheliegend. #Berlin pic.twitter.com/sucFRYDvQU
— rbb|24 (@rbb24) August 19, 2020
Samrad D. was transported to a psychiatric facility for evaluation following his attack on the A100 highway.
Vehicle terrorist attacks a serious concern for German police
Germany is on alert regarding the Islamist threat weighing on the country, Le Parisien reports.
German authorities have foiled a dozen attempted vehicle-ramming attacks since the most deadly attack in December 2016 where an asylum seeker killed 12 people at a Christmas market with his truck.
In June 2018, the police thwarted a “biological bomb” attack by a Tunisian linked to ISIS. The 29-year-old terrorist was sentenced to 10 years in prison and his accomplice recived eight years in prison.
According to Le Parisien, since 2013, the number of Islamists in Germany considered dangerous has seen a fivefold increase and currently stands at 680. The number of Salafists has also doubled since 2013 and is estimated at around 11,000.