The Syrian man who was shot dead while trying to attack a police station in Paris last week have been previously arrested for sexual assault in Cologne and may even have taken part in the attacks on New Year’s Eve.
Walid Salihi was arrested two years ago for sexually assaulting women in a disco in Cologne after being accused of rubbing their backsides and touching their “intimate parts”. In the same month he also allegedly beat up a homeless man and attacked a passer-by.
German newspaper Bild now reports that a friend of Salihi’s was arrested after this year’s Cologne sex assaults, leading to suspicion he could also have been involved in those attacks before travelling to France.
He was shot dead on the anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo shootings while trying to enter a police station, shouting “Allahu Akbar!”
He was wearing a fake bomb vest and carrying a knife.
German police have confirmed he lived at a migrant centre in Recklinghausen, 60 miles north of Cologne, and that he has used several aliases while staying in the country.
In Germany, he registered as an asylum seeker claiming to be 18-year-old Walid Salihi, but in France he called himself Tarek Belgacem. He also pretended to be Georgian and Tunisian.
Uwe Jacob, director of the local criminal office, said: “We don’t know who the man really is.”
As well as sexual assault, German police had also previously arrested him for drug possession, causing actual bodily harm, making threats, committing thefts and unlawful weapons possession.
He was also fanatically religious, with a man who shared a room with him at the German asylum centre saying: “He became aggressive very quickly, especially when it came to matters of religious belief.
“All non-believers were ‘worthless’ to him and had to die.”
Despite his convictions he was free to travel Europe. Between January 2011 and March 2015, he was registered in Austria, Germany, Italy, Romania, Sweden and Switzerland.
“It is entirely unclear why he was not rumbled by authorities sooner,” Bild wrote. “For every offence and for every registration he was fingerprinted.”