Monday, July 25, 2016

25-Jul-16: German tentacles: An explosion in a wine bar and deepening concern about 'asylum seekers'

A bag outside the wine bar in Ansbach gets inspected  by
security - long after the explosion [Image Source]
Germans, no matter where on the political spectrum their views fit, must be wondering where the next violent headlines in their country are going to come from.

This morning (Monday), the country is waking up to what seems to be a terror attack on a drinking spot in the town of Ansbach, the capital of the administrative region of Middle Franconia in the German state of Bavaria and home to about 40,000. It happens also to be where the United States 12th Combat Aviation Brigade ("Wings of Victory”) has its base.

An open-air music festival was being held in the town, but was immediately canceled by local authorities. Thousands of patrons were evacuated by police in the wake of the assault. German radio speaks this morning of 12 people injured, three of them seriously. The human bomb is dead.

The Interior Minister of Bavaria, Joachim Herrmann, is willing to go on the record with his private speculation about the character of this explosion:
"My personal opinion is that, unfortunately I think, it is very obvious that there has been a real Islamist suicide attack here," Herrmann said early Monday. ["Bavaria bomb blast", RT, July 25, 2016]
The perpetrator is described as a "failed asylum seeker from Syria" [BBC, which in accordance with its guidelines calls this "an attack" but not "terror"] whose "asylum application was rejected last year for reasons that we don't know right at this minute" [Al Jazeera]. He is said by Reuters to have been "carrying a backpack filled with explosives and metal parts that would have been sufficient to kill more people", If they're right, we think the metal parts part of the account might be something of a give-away.

We think it's fair to wonder as well what sort of security was in place at that popular music festival where the man was denied entry for lack of a ticket but where, as it appears, no one checked what must have been a heavy bag on his back to see what use that might be to him. (Israel, this clearly wasn't.)

He won't be answering questions in his current situation. But the trail he left behind during a two year sojourn in Germany (including two attempts to take his own life and getting psychiatric help) en route to his final explosion places him firmly within that million to two million group of recent "asylum"-seeking "refugees" whose presence is reshaping not only Germany but all of Europe. To anyone watching, the influx is much less reported now than a year ago, but continues in full force: about 50,000 undocumented migrants entered Italy from Africa in May 2016 alone [source].

An effort, involving the payment of many millions of Euros to Turkey, was made four months ago but whatever expectations that created have now evaporated:
Under the notorious bargain struck with Ankara on March 18, all those who arrive on the Greek islands were meant to be detained, brought before an asylum tribunal and returned to Turkey in under a week. When the deal was struck, many warned it had pushed international laws governing asylum to their limit. Now, the Greek officials charged with interviewing and approving deportation seem to agree. Aid agencies protested that it violated international law by designating Turkey a “safe third country” for asylum seekers – a controversial premise given Turkey’s record of human rights abuses, reports that it has forcefully deported refugees to the countries they fled, and its only partial ratification of the Geneva Conventions. ["Tension rises among asylum seekers as EU deportation plan falters", Independent UK, March 2016]
Events in Turkey of the past ten days guarantee that efforts to designate it a "safe country" are on ice until further notice.

What we know at this point about the events of last night:
An explosion in the southern German city of Ansbach was a suicide attack, according to the region's interior minister. The bomber died in the blast. A device was exploded by a 27-year-old Syrian national outside a music festival. He had been denied entry into the event due to the lack of a ticket, Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said during a news conference early Monday. Twelve people were injured. The man, who has not yet been named, stood around the festival entrance for a short period before he blew himself up. The music festival and surrounding area were evacuated. Authorities said the bomber had previously applied for asylum in Germany but had had his application rejected. He was also known to police in Ansbach for previous offenses. German media outlets reported that he had previously attempted suicide. Herrmann said his backpack contained screws and nails, an apparent attempt to inflict further damage. Officially this attack is not confirmed as terrorism, he said, but there are strong indications it may be. ["Suicide bomb rocks Ansbach, Germany", CNN, July 25, 2016]
A January 2016 Bloomberg report quotes the premier of Bavaria, Horst Seehofer, expressing vigorous rejection of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door policy toward "refugees":
“You have to face the fact that the confusion surrounding the stream of refugees is being exploited to commit crimes,” Seehofer told reporters at Wildbad Kreuth in the Bavarian Alps. “I’m sticking with my demand for a change of refugee policy in all its facets in 2016.” ["Germany Saw 1.1 Million Migrants in 2015 as Debate Intensifies", Bloomberg, January 6, 2016]
It would be surprising to know that the debate he invokes is not growing more intensified this morning. Germans are probably not the only Europeans wondering how many other recently-admitted "asylum seeking" men from places where explosions, stabbings and shootings are rather more common than in Europe are currently getting psychiatric treatment to fight suicidal urges.

Also yesterday, a Syrian "refugee" of 21 - another "asylum-seeker" said to have been "known to the police and... charged in the past with assault" [WSJ] was arrested in the southwestern city of Reutlingen, near Stuttgart after hacking to death a pregnant woman and wounding two people with a machete. He had "arrived in Germany by himself about 18 months ago" [AFP]. The Wall Street Journal notes that "More than 300,000 Syrians have applied for asylum in Germany since January 2015". It doesn't say how many of them are known to the police, or what the police know in general. (Or how sure any of the authorities are that this or that arrival is actually a Syrian.)

Add that and the wine bar bombing to these acts of terror on German soil in the past five days:
We're with the Europeans. There is much to fear.

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