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Monday, February 6, 2023

Four years on from the brutal Islamic terrorist attack, still no effective counter-terrorism strategy

By: V4 Agency

In Berlin this December, the bereaved relatives of the victims of the Christmas market terrorist attack four years ago have finally received some solace: no Christmas market festivities. The cancellation was of course because of the epidemic, yet many welcome it saying that the absence of the hustle and bustle, music and mulled wine on Breitscheidplatz provides a worthy commemoration on the anniversary of the most brutal terrorist attack in the country’s history. A recently compiled anti-terrorism strategy has spurred wide-scale objections.

Four years have passed since terrorist Anis Amri murdered a Polish truck driver, hijacked his vehicle, and then drove at high speed into the hustle and bustle of the Christmas market at Breitscheidplatz in Berlin, killing 12 people and injuring more than a hundred. The tragic incident devasted and left psychological scars on the families of the victims and in society as a whole. Many voice their concerns to this day – intensified with the recent attack in Vienna – that despite the precursory signs and warnings German authorities were unable to prevent the heinous act of terrorism.

Berlin’s State Minister of the Interior Andreas Geisel recently admitted as much.

As the anniversary approached, the Social Democrat (SPD) minister presented his new counter-terrorism concept on Friday, largely based on the experience of measures and reorganisations implemented following the Berlin attack. (Geisel had been in office only a few days when the terrorist attack took place.)

The Berlin Breitscheidplatz Christmas market had to be evacuated on Saturday evening due to a suspected terrorist attack….

The counter-terrorism plan, titled “Save”, focuses on intensifying co-operation between security authorities, better equiping the police force, closer monitoring of Islamists, establishing deradicalisation programs, and greater co-operation between police and rescue services.

Many argue the concept is worth nothing and call for stronger action. Burkard Dregger, leader of the Christian Democrats (CDU) parliamentary group, said it was “completely incomprehensible” that a new anti-terrorism plan “contains nothing new.” Paul Fresdorf, an internal expert for the Free Democrats (FDP), described Geisel’s 44-page concept as simply “flowery language.”

An effective strategy seems to truly be needed, as the Berlin authorities are currently contending with dozens of threats, any one of which could manifest as a real attack at any time.

As is well known, the perpetrator, Anis Amri, was identified by the authorities 24 hours after the 2016 Berlin Christmas market terrorist attack, so he managed to escape from Germany. The man was shot five days later by Italian police in a suburb of Milan after opening fire on them during a routine inspection.

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