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    Police patrols at the reopened Christmas market near the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin on December 22, 2016

    Berlin Terror Attack: Mixture of Luck and Failings - Security Expert

    © AFP 2019 / CLEMENS BILAN
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    The shooting dead in Italy of a man believed to be the attacker who drove a truck into a crown of people at a Christmas market in Berlin, Germany, December 19, killing 12 and injuring 48, reveals a mixture of luck and failing on the part of the German security services, Sputnik has been told.

    Italian authorities have confirmed that a man known as Anis Amri, the Berlin market attack suspect, was shot dead when approached, during a routine check in the Sesto San Giovanni area of Milan, in the early hours of December 23.

    However, questions are being asked on how he managed to cross out of Germany and reach Italy in the middle of a massive police and security agency hunt in Germany following the atrocity in its nation's capital, at a time when the issue of immigration and terrorism is so politically sensitive.

    According to German media, Amri — a Tunisian national — had been imprisoned in Italy, was known to the German authorities through having applied for asylum, used various aliases and had been suspected of planning an attack. A senior UK security expert, Will Geddes, founder of ICP Group, said the authorities could be forgiven for having to keep observations on so many suspects.

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel about to lay flowers with Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere on December 20, 2016 at the site where a truck crashed into a Christmas market near the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin.
    © AFP 2019 / MAURIZIO GAMBARINI
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel

    "Inevitably there will be individuals who will be of interest and note to the security services that they will have under watch, but then they will have to prioritize another target — another person of interest — and as a result, they drop them and unfortunately these people tend to come back up again. That can happen to any of us," Geddes told Sputnik.

    He said that the German law enforcement agencies — because of their structure — may not have been cross-exchanging intelligence information effectively between agencies.

    "There are some failings on the German side, in terms of their intelligence instruments, because they are very federalized and they are where France was after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, where none of [the French] intelligence agencies were really effectively communicating with each other. The problem with Germany is that they are playing massive catch-up right now and were caught with their pants down, in every sense of the word," he said.

    Nice Copyact?

    However, Geddes was critical of the fact that the modus operandi of the Berlin attack was so similar to that of the attack in Nice, July 2016, when a man drove a truck into crowds celebrating Bastille Day, killing 86 and injuring over 400.

    French police forces and forensic officers stand next to a truck July 15, 2016 that ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France, July 14
    © REUTERS / Eric Gaillard
    French police forces and forensic officers stand next to a truck July 15, 2016 that ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France, July 14

    "In the wake of any terrorist attack, all the counterterrorist agencies around the world will get together at the scene of the incident to meet with their local counterparts to establish and analyse 'what, where, who, why and how.' 

    "They will try to understand if there as any critical intelligence beforehand that could have been useful for detecting whether it was going to happen, right through to the attack itself. How was it delivered? How many people? Their capability? Everything else that goes with it. Fundamentally they can then put into place suitable countermeasures to make sure that [the agencies' own countries] do not get caught out by a similar type of attack."

    ​"What happened with Germany? I have no idea. One has got to question how effective [the security agencies] were, bearing in mind that people in the security world, like me, since October have been forewarning of potential threats during this coming Christmas season.

    ​"So one would have hoped that they would have thought: 'Christmas coming up. Christmas markets. That's where lots of people are going to get together. Any kind of celebration… all the really obvious. What measures are we going to put in place around those to protect people?' "

    People walk over the Christmas market near the city hall in Berlin two days after a truck ran into a crowd, killing several people
    © AP Photo / Markus Schreiber
    People walk over the Christmas market near the city hall in Berlin two days after a truck ran into a crowd, killing several people

    "Or — before these things happen — installing hostile surveillance, reconnaissance, detection, identifying any kind of potential risks, chatter on social media, movement of particular suspects," Geddes said.

    Related:

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    German Minister Confirms Berlin Attack Suspect's Prints Found in Cab of Truck
    Police Operation Underway in Berlin as Manhunt for Market Attacker Continues
    Berlin Attack Suspect Amri Wanted to Become Suicide Bomber – Reports
    Tags:
    intelligence failure, security service, terror threat, terror attack, terrorism, counterterrorism, Berlin truck attack, Nice Truck Attack, Italy, Germany, Europe, Nice, Milan, Berlin
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