Suspect in Hamburg Knife Attack Was Known to German Police as Radicalized Islamist

A memorial near a supermarket in Hamburg, Germany, on Saturday where a man stabbed one person to death and wounded five others.
Markus Scholz/DPA, via Associated Press

The German police said Saturday that the 26-year-old man accused of killing one person and wounding five others with a knife in Hamburg was known to them as a recently radicalized Islamist, but that they did not believe he posed an imminent danger.

The authorities in Hamburg were still piecing together what motivated the man, a Palestinian born in the United Arab Emirates, to attack shoppers and passers-by in and around a supermarket on Friday. They described him as suffering from psychological problems. The authorities did not release his name, in keeping with German privacy laws.

“It remains unclear which was the overriding element,” said Andy Grote, Hamburg’s interior minister. The man’s application for asylum had been rejected, and he was in the process of being deported, officials said.

The authorities said that they had so far found no indication that the man had any links to local or international terrorist groups, but that they were still looking into his background.

The police have opened an investigation and are holding the man on suspicion of murder and attempted murder, but charges will not be filed until the completion of a psychological assessment, said Jörg Fröhlich, the Hamburg state prosecutor.

Federal prosecutors, who handle terrorist attacks, have not yet taken over the case, he said.

But Friday’s attack is sure to draw parallels to the Dec. 19 truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market carried out by Anis Amri that killed 12 and wounded dozens. Like the Hamburg attacker, Mr. Amri was known to the police and was facing deportation, but still managed to slip through cracks.

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SOURCE: NY Times, Melissa Eddy