Friday, September 18, 2015

18-Sep-15: Someone stabbed a policewoman in Europe: Anything here to learn?

The now-deceased assailant had been living in Germany for 14 years when
he was convicted in 2008. How well had he absorbed the culture, values
and language of his asylum? The earphones in front of him
could be a clue [Image Source]
Police in the Spandau district of Berlin were alerted yesterday (Thursday) morning to the presence of what people were reporting as a “madman with a knife” threatening people in the area. Officers were dispatched and, according to Telegraph UK, the suspect
attacked a woman police officer as she got out of her patrol car, stabbing her in the neck just above the top of her protective vest... For several hours after the incident, police were treating it as a random act of violence by a mentally disturbed man.
The woman officer’s partner drew his weapon and shot the assailant four times. Four additional patrol cars arrived at the scene and additional gunfire ensued. A "stray bullet" hit the injured police woman, who was rushed to emergency surgery and was out of danger by Thursday evening.

Then the authorities started acknowledging that this might not have been random violence.

Turns out the man with the knife has a back-story. Associated Press says he is "a known Islamic extremist", as does Washington Free Beacon. The BBC, surprisingly forthright this time, says he was "an Islamist who stabbed and seriously injured a policewoman". But Daily Express UK isn't too sure of his faith or outlook and contents itself with "a member of a terror group linked to al-Qaeda" (delicately refraining from any mention of Islam, Moslem or Muslim except as part of the name of a violent group).

At the bashful Voice of America, they say
German police have shot dead an Iraqi man who had wounded a policewoman with a knife, with prosecutors saying he was a suspected "Islamist." [Voice of America, September 17, 2015]
with quote marks suggesting audiences should figure it out for themselves.

Germany's state broadcaster seems a little surer (though not much) that faith-related issues fit into this somewhere:
A 41-year-old man of Iraqi origin has been shot dead in Berlin after he stabbed a policewoman. State prosecutors say the man was an "Islamist." [DeutscheWelle]
In Morocco, the story's headline conveys some facts without much insight: "German Police Shoot Knife-Wielding Iraqi Man After he Stabbed a Policewoman".

And CNN, which to remind us all is working from the same set of facts as everyone else and has updated the story at least once since yesterday afternoon, seems to have a case of journalistic paralysis. Quoting the official police spokesperson, it says he
told CNN it's too early to say what might have motivated the suspect, who was released from jail in 2013. The unidentified man was convicted of attempting an attack on Iraqi's prime minister during a visit to Berlin in 2004... "He was under supervision and wears an electronic tag. But he was not under any surveillance," said Berlin prosecutor Michael von Hagen, describing the suspect as someone "belonging to the Islamic scene." ["Police kill Iraqi man in Berlin after knife attack on street", CNN]
AP provides a few notable details
Security officials confirmed to The Associated Press that the attacker was Rafik Mohamad Yousef, who was convicted seven years ago of belonging to an al-Qaida-linked terror group... Frank Henkel, the interior minister for the state of Berlin, said the reasons for the attack were still unclear. "There are indications that this wasn't a planned act," Henkel said in a statement, but added that due to the man's history "a religious motif can't be excluded."
Yousef, an Iraqi national, was arrested in December 2004 after German officials suspected him and two others of being part of a plot by the Ansar al-Islam group to attack former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi during a visit to Berlin.
German authorities wanted to deport him to Iraq after his release in 2013 but were unable to do so because he could have faced the death penalty in connection with the attempted assassination, Henkel said.
Yousef was ordered to wear an electronic tag, which he removed on Thursday morning.
The AFP caption reads: "Men, women and children break a police cordon rushing towards waiting buses at the train station in the city of Tovarnik, close to the Croatian-Serbian border, Sept. 17, 2015." [Image Source]
Given the openly-admitted impotence of the German security people, it would not surprise to know that anxieties are on the rise throughout Europe over how well things are going to work out. The 2015 tsunami of in-bound undocumented Arab migrants has brought Germany some 800,000 asylum-seekers this year alone. That's four times last year’s non-trivial total, and there's little sign of these numbers getting smaller. We think there's good reason to expect them to grow.

Can the system cope? Germany's Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF in German)
is said to have more than 250,000 unprocessed asylum applications with the average turnaround time averaging more than five months... [DeutscheWelle, yesterday]
Telegraph UK says that the knife-man had been
sentenced to eight years [and] released early in 2013 but electronically tagged and allowed to remain in Germany.
The people in charge of security knew this was a dangerous person but according to BBC (drawing different inferences from those of AP)
the German authorities were unable to deport him as he had refugee status and was at risk of being killed in his native Iraq. ["Germany police shoot Berlin Islamist after knife attack", BBC, September 17, 2015]
We imagine some Europeans, observing with horror the lengths to which their authorities go to guard the welfare of "asylum"-seeking migrants convicted of plotting murder and then left to walk their streets with removable tags on their limbs, must be wondering how well they and their loved ones are protected from repetitions of this lethal act and worse.

But not all Europeans. According to Wall Street Journal yesterday, nearly two-thirds of Germans say, according to a poll taken this past weekend "they don’t fear that too many refugees were coming to their country." Which leaves us wondering how to interpret yesterday's report that Germany's
Interior Ministry announced in a statement on Thursday that it had accepted the resignation of Manfred Schmidt, head of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF). The ministry cited "personal reasons" for Schmidt's departure from Germany's top migration authority.

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