The Islamic State (ISIS) has formally claimed responsibility for the attack on a Christmas market in Berlin, claiming that the driver who killed 12 and injured 48 by ramming a truck into a crowd of shoppers was “a soldier of the Islamic State.”
The UK Independent reports the claim was published through the ISIS-linked Amaq News Agency and is consistent with the phrasing of previous claims of responsibility by ISIS for “lone wolf” terror attacks.
The statement also said the truck jihadi “carried out the attack in response to calls to target nationals of countries in the international coalition.”
Unfortunately, ISIS did not tender the name of its “solider,” which would have been helpful because he is apparently still on the loose.
After announcing that the results of the investigation “thus far have not produced imminent suspicion against the accused,” German police released the suspect they had been holding.
“We just heard about the supposed claim of responsibility by this so-called Islamic State that is in fact a gang of terrorists. There are several leads that investigators are following now,” said German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere.
“They’re really back to square one in terms of this investigation. … It may well be a scenario of a manhunt, a race against time to arrest this individual before they can strike again,” said CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank.
“Now not only is the attacker apparently at large, but it’s also unclear how the terrorist incident was planned or whether the attacker had logistical support from anyone affiliated with terrorist organizations,” ABC News notes. It would be perilous for the German public if the perpetrator is not the “instantly self-radicalized lone wolf” Western officials and media outlets have been assuming.
Another bit of news ABC reported is that the passenger found dead in the vehicle “did not control the truck that drove into the Christmas market,” according to German police, which would seem to confirm statements from the Polish owner of the truck that his driver was hijacked.
The Washington Post reports the discouraging detail that German police have not released any criminal sketches of the Christmas market suspect to the public.
“It is the case that we possibly still have a dangerous offender in our area. These days it is necessary to be vigilant,” said Berlin police chief Klaus Kandt.