Berlin truck attacker was no lone wolf, German authorities say

The Daily Beast reports: Germany’s most wanted jihadist will spend his 24th birthday on the run.

Anis Amri, who turns 24 on Thursday, was named on Wednesday as the lead suspect in Monday’s deadly attack on a Berlin Christmas Market. He was reportedly identified from official documents left behind in the truck’s cab.

But German authorities also say the Tunisian man had ties to a notorious group of local ISIS sympathizers led by a man named Abu Walaa, who was arrested in November alongside four others accused of operating an ISIS recruitment network.

Der Spiegel, citing local officials, said that Amri and Abu Walaa were in “regular contact.”

If that’s the case, what first was considered to be a “lone wolf” attack in Germany — the first successful terrorist operation there since the 9/11 attacks — could instead be the work of an ISIS cell.

Abu Walaa—whose real name is Ahmad Abdulaziz Abdullah—is an Iraqi-born preacher who serves a mosque in Hildesheim, about three hours from Berlin. The 32-year-old had styled himself as a sheikh who gives religious and marital advice, often in videos that never show his visage. iPhone and Android stores even offer an “Abu Walaa” app. A Facebook page devoted to the “sheikh,” featuring videos of him sermonizing in German and Arabic, has 25,000 followers. Only ever photographed or filmed from behind, and dressed in a hooded black cloak, he is known popularly as the “preacher without a face.” [Continue reading…]

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