16 December 2016: On this day in Berlin history, 12 people were killed and up to 100 injured in a devastating attack on the Christmas Market near Berlin’s Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church.
After a hijacked truck was deliberately driven into the crowd, an intense hunt ensued for the prime suspect, a 23-year old Tunisian named Anis Amri. The Islamic State in Iraq and Levant had issued Amri with instructions, and released a video of him pledging allegiance to ISIL’s then leader, Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi.
The trail led through the Netherlands and France, before police in Milan confronted a “very suspicious man” walking through the streets. When asked to provide identification documents, Amri drew his firearm and began shooting. One policeman was injured in the firefight, and Amri was shot dead.
Some voices on the right-wing of German politics blamed Angela Merkel’s asylum policy, which had seen large numbers of refugees fleeing conflict in Syria settle in Germany, for the apparent increase in the threat of Islamist terror attacks.
However, refugees and minorities in Germany remain far more likely to be the victims of, rather than perpetrators of terrorism. Between 2012 and 2016, extreme right-wing terrorist attacks against refugee homes in Germany increased more than 6,000% from 24 in 2012 to over 1,500 in 2015 and 2016.*
Since 2016, with heightened security and fortifications at Christmas markets in place, there have been no similar incidents in Germany.