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Terrorism Surrounds the World, Germany Searches for Possible Amri Accomplices | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The body of Anis Amri, the suspect in the Berlin Christmas market truck attack, is seen covered by a thermal blanket in a suburb of the northern Italian city of Milan, Italy December 23, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer

Brussels, Rome, and Berlin – The year 2016 comes to an end, as the world witnesses several terrorist acts that led governments all over the globe to enforce security measures in case of new attacks during the holiday season.

Many countries, such as UK, Australia, Malaysia, and Germany declared over the past few days it had foiled terrorist attacks, especially after recent attacks in Germany and Jordan, assassination of Russian Ambassador in Turkey, and before that the bombing in a church in Egypt.

German authorities continued its investigations after the death of the primary suspect, Tunisian Anis Amri, in Berlin’s attack, and is looking for possible accomplices who might have helped him reach Italy despite strict procedures.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned today of an enduring terror threat, despite the killing of the suspect of the Berlin Christmas market attack.

“We can be relieved at the end of this week that the acute danger is over,” Merkel said.

Germany’s federal public prosecutor Peter Frank said: “It’s very important for us now to find out whether there was a network of supporters and accomplices, whether there were confidants who helped the sought person to prepare and conduct the attack and to escape.”

Investigators are now reconstructing his itinerary from Berlin to Milan.

German press is wondering how Amri managed to escape the security measures that were imposed after the attack. German police also wants to identify if the weapon used by Amri in Milan is the same as that used in Berlin attack.

Amri’s death was the lead on all media outlets in Brussels, which said that investigators all over Europe intensified their work during the holidays.

Belgium newspaper “Standard” said on Saturday that Amri’s death raised several questions, including how he managed to get out of Berlin and reached Italy, did anyone help him, and what will be Germany’s future immigration policies.

In Brussels, Minister of Interior Jean Jambon announced his country’s full cooperation with German security forces in the investigations.

In Paris, Jean-Marc Falcone said that French investigators are working with German and Italian forces. Falcon said that the issue now is to determine whether the terrorism passed through French soil.

Many questions have risen as Italy wonders what Europe’s most wanted man was doing in Milan suburbs.

Nobody comes to Sesto San Giovanni without a goal, as it is a working-class Milan suburb.

Sesto San Giovanni, with its 80,000 inhabitants, is where Amri caught the officers’ attention in the small hours. It’s a hub for transport, the last stop on a metro line, and has a busy bus terminal where buses leave for Spain, Morocco, Albania and southern Italy.

Many foreigners come through here, and police controls are particularly thorough.

“I get checked by police every day getting off the bus,” said Aziz, a young Moroccan worker.

“At night this place is deserted, which would explain why somebody alone here would be immediately spotted by a police patrol,” he added.

According to Italian daily La Stampa, police believe that Amri arrived in Italy by train from Chambery, southeastern France.

They think he stopped for three hours in Turin, where police are now checking video surveillance footage for clues as to any contact with accomplices.

But none of the images they have seen so far show him using a phone, and according to Milan police chief Antonio De Iesu, he did not have one with him when he was shot dead.

He then travelled to Milan, where he arrived at 1 AM Friday, before going on to Sesto San Giovanni.

Was he hoping to hook up with members of a network? Was he looking for new ID to get him out of Europe? Or was he planning some kind of revenge against Italy, where he spent four years in prison for torching a school in 2011?

Police chief De Lesu told journalists that Amri had “no links with the Sesto mosque”, but some locals wonder if he had contacts nearby.

“Some people are worried,” said Tommaso Trivolo, who lives in a high-rise building opposite the train station from where he saw the ambulances arriving with screaming sirens just after the shooting.

Italy does its bit investigating terrorists’ sympathizer networks, but only a few dozen Italians have actually gone off to join ISIS fighters in Iraq or Syria.

Despite the occasional threatening militant video, Italy has never been the target of any terrorist attack. Yet, many Italians are startled that the man tracked by the combined power of the continent’s police forces could slip into their country unnoticed.