Report finds that authorities’ failures made Berlin terrorist attack possible

Report finds that authorities’ failures made Berlin terrorist attack possible

Report finds that authorities’ failures made Berlin terrorist attack possible

An investigative committee has found that the 2016 terrorist attack in Berlin was made possible by a series of errors and misjudgements from authorities.

Attack on Berlin’s Breitscheidplatz Christmas market

Back in 2016, a 24-year-old Tunisian national and unsuccessful asylum seeker committed one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in German history. The attacker, named Anis Amri, hijacked a truck in Berlin, shooting and killing the driver. Amri then drove the truck through the Christmas market at Breitscheidplatz, killing 12 people. He was eventually shot and killed by police in Italy, after fleeing Germany in the wake of the attack.

On Monday, five years on from the attack, an investigative committee working for the Berlin parliament released a report into the attack. The report, in which more than 1.200 pages of records and 92 witness interviews were examined, found that the authorities had made a number of serious errors ahead of the attack.

Report blames “serious errors” for attack

The report criticised a number of bureaucratic failures by Berlin authorities. It revealed that the exchange of information between judicial and security offices was not adequate and, even when authorities did hold counterterrorism meetings regarding the attacker, the report deemed it unclear as to “whether the participants in the meetings were actually comprehensively informed about all relevant findings."

The committee also found that there was a lack of pressure to introduce a ban on a Salafist mosque association in the area where Amri was known to be operating, something the committee has labelled a “serious error." The committee also noted that Berlin authorities had lost track of Amri in the lead up to the attack, despite being known by police.

According to the report, the criminal office that was investigating Amri and other potential terrorist threats was understaffed and did not have a uniform standard for basic practices like case documentation. Aside from these organisational errors, the report also found that authorities gravely misunderstood Amri and his intentions, with one key error being the authorities’ belief that Amri could not be radicalised in Salafist groups due to being a drug dealer.

William Nehra


William Nehra

William studied a masters in Classics at the University of Amsterdam. He is a big fan of Ancient History and football, particularly his beloved Watford FC.

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