The suspected perpetrator of the attack on the berlin city highway on tuesday evening had an extremist motive, according to the authorities.
"According to the current state of knowledge, we assume an islamist attack," said berlin’s interior senator andreas geisel (SPD). But there are also "indications of a mental instability", as the berlin general prosecutor’s office and the police jointly announced. The suspect, a 30-year-old iraqi, was arrested and placed in the evening preliminary in the closed psychiatric ward. He is under investigation for attempted murder.
The perpetrator had hit several vehicles with his car and injured six people, three of them seriously. The suspected attacker was "virtually hunting" motorcyclists, said martin steltner, spokesman for the prosecutor’s office.
The man hit two motorcyclists and a scooter rider. The motorcyclists and a car had been rammed, another car had been struck, said steltner. The collisions are to be regarded as targeted attacks. One of the motorcyclists suffered serious injuries to his head and spine. Two other two-wheeler riders were injured quite seriously, said attorney general margarete koppers in the legal committee of the house of representatives. During the last collision, the attacker pushed the third motorcyclist with his car onto a car in front of him. The three-headed family in the car was slightly injured, he says.
According to the public prosecutor’s office, the iraqi is tolerated in germany and may not be deported until further notice. According to information from berlin senate circles, he came to the country as an asylum seeker, but his asylum application was rejected. According to the report, it was initially unclear when he came to germany. According to photos from his facebook profile, he was already in berlin at least in 2016. The facebook page has been blocked in the meantime.
Attorney general koppers said: "he has been recorded since 2018 as a suspect of several bodily injuries and an attack on law enforcement officials."At times he had also been placed in a psychiatric facility. Despite mental abnormalities, targeted behavior is possible. The iraqi is being investigated for attempted murder in several cases, koppers explained. Why he targeted motorcyclists was initially unclear. On the twitter account of the attorney general’s office it was posted in the evening: "just now, among other things, for attempted murder and dangerous interference with traffic in three cases, the preliminary placement of the defendant in a closed psychiatric facility of the mabregelvollzuges has been ordered."
According to police, the suspect had an alleged ammunition box with him at the crime scene. Koppers reported that the man had shouted "allahu akbar" several times and said in arabic that everyone was dying. He had a cake knife with him and had rolled out a prayer rug and sat down on it. A police officer who speaks arabic and was among the first on the scene arrested him. According to a police spokeswoman, the officers only found tools in a box that he claimed contained a "dangerous object". According to the report, no traces of explosives were found on the car.
On wednesday, the general public prosecutor’s office in berlin and the police did not see any indications of membership in a terrorist organization. From security circles, the german press agency learned that the iraqi had been in contact with an islamist known to be a danger to the people. Both are said to have lived in the same refugee accommodation for four months last year.
Berlin’s interior senator geisel said: "when a car hits a motorcyclist, they don’t stand a chance"." Uninvolved people had "out of nowhere become victims of a crime".
Before the crime, the suspected driver published information about it on the internet. On his facebook page, he posted photos of the later tatautos as well as religious slogans, in which also the word "martyr" appears. On the photos the berlin license plate of the black car can be seen. According to information on his facebook profile, the alleged perpetrator studied design. He posted a photo there in march 2015 of the final day at an iraqi art academy.