Drugs and terror: Berlin truck-attack suspect followed familiar pattern

The Wall Street Journal reports: The 24-year-old Tunisian migrant suspected of killing 12 people in an attack in Berlin this week typified a new wave of young jihadists in Europe who mix drug dealing and other illegal activities with Islamist terror.

Anis Amri, who was killed in a shootout with Italian police in Milan on Friday after days on the run, peddled cocaine in a hip neighborhood of the German capital, while becoming increasingly radicalized and declaring his allegiance to Islamic State.

It is a pattern that has become increasingly common. Two brothers involved in the November 2015 attacks in Paris sold hashish from a bar in the Belgian capital, Brussels. One — Salah Abdeslam, the main surviving suspect in that assault — served time in prison for breaking into a garage. The other had repeated brushes with the law for theft, drugs and weapons possession.

“You have a crossover between criminals and extremists,” said Magnus Ranstorp, a counterterrorism expert at the Swedish Defence University. “They are just as at ease with selling drugs, petty crime and dabbling in extremism.” [Continue reading…]

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