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‘Why wasn’t Berlin attack suspect under tight surveillance?’

Why were sufficient precaution measures not taken in some European cities after the Europol warning of increased risk of terrorist attacks? What did intelligence services know about the alleged attacker? RT asked experts.

‘Why wasn’t Berlin attack suspect under tight surveillance?’

Workers place concrete barriers outside the Christmas market at Breitscheid square in Berlin, Germany, December 22, 2016, following an attack by a truck which ploughed through a crowd at the market on Monday night. © Hannibal Hanschke / Reuters
Tunisian national Anis Amri was named by the German federal prosecutor's office on Wednesday as the suspect in the Berlin Christmas market attack. The man reportedly sought asylum in Germany and was already on the radar of intelligence services.

German police released photos of the Berlin market attack suspect, 24-year-old Tunisian Anis Amri. © bka.de
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Identity documents belonging to Amri were allegedly found inside the truck.

RT asked David Lowe, former UK counter-terrorism officer whether it’s normal for it to take two days to find the suspect's ID in the vehicle.

“It depends on what condition the car was after the incident finished. Maybe there might have been all the documentation – we’ve got to see, we really don’t know. Yes, I suppose you could argue that this could have been an absolutely vital piece of evidence that might have been seized upon earlier. But the good news at least they found it, and there is now a name to the person we’re looking for. That is an interesting angle because we’ve supposed that it’s been an individual, who is being inspired by what they’ve heard and seen from – we can now say ISIS because they are claiming responsibility. But it could be, because they are from Tunisia, and a lot of Tunisian citizens have joined ISIS over in Syria and Iraq, as well where they held territory in Libya. So it just might be another avenue for the investigators to look at the possibility that this is being organized and they’ve got someone who is a member of the group, who is active in Germany,” he said.

German security forces are now putting up concrete barriers around Christmas markets in cities like Dresden

RT asked the analyst whether security measures should have been taken earlier, given increased risks and the attack in Nice where similar tactics were used. Europol - citing intelligence services - warned that jihadists were likely to carry out more terrorist attacks.

Lowe said he was “quite surprised” that some precautions were not taken in markets in a capital city like Berlin.

“It’s the same throughout most of Europe where most towns and cities” have Christmas markets and there are a lot of other public events at this time of year, he said.

Among measures that can be taken the expert named “physical prevention issues like concrete and so on,” cordoning off some areas, increased uniformed police presence. However, Lowe said, the real key to preventing terrorist attacks “is information in intelligence that comes in.”
 

According to Charles Shoebridge, former counter-terrorism intelligence officer, a lot of questions currently remain unanswered.

“I think in the fullness of time, if not now, there are many questions to be asked of what the German intelligence services knew about this operation that has been carried out; about what they knew perhaps about the suspect that was originally arrested; but above all of course – what they knew about the suspect they have now named. Also - if as the briefings are being given turn out to be correct – that this was a person that was known, at least in some kind of terrorism context; if he was regarded as dangerous to the extent that appears to have been the case, then why wasn’t he under more tight surveillance,” he told RT.

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