Germany/Da’esh – German prosecutors said on the 16 Dec 16 they were investigating a case in which a 12-year-old boy allegedly tried to detonate a home-made nail bomb at a Christmas market. News weekly Focus first reported the case, saying a German-Iraqi child had attempted the attack, possibly after being radicalised by Islamic State group jihadists. Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said "a report like this is frightening" but declined further comment, saying the matter was in the hands of federal prosecutors. The home-made device -- a glass jar filled with a combustible powder and nails -- was discovered on the 5 Dec 16 in the western city of Ludwigshafen and destroyed by police. Stefan Biehl of the federal prosecution service, which handles terrorism cases, said that "I can confirm that we have started an investigation based on the discovery of a nail bomb in Ludwigshafen". Focus magazine, citing unnamed judicial and security sources, said the boy was thought to have been "strongly religiously radicalised" and possibly received instructions from an unknown IS member. Public broadcaster Suedwestrundfunk, also citing unnamed security sources, said the boy was thought to have received instructions from the IS via the encrypted instant messaging service Telegram. The boy allegedly first tried to detonate the device at the city's Christmas market on the 26 Nov 16. Then, on the 5 Dec 16 he allegedly hid the explosive in a backpack outside a shopping centre near the city's town hall where a passer-by spotted it and informed police. The child, who cannot face a German court because he is aged under 14, was detained and placed into a juvenile care facility, said Focus weekly. City mayor Eva Lohse said he "is currently staying at a secure place and therefore presents no public threat". Local prosecutor Hubert Stroeber said that to call the device a bomb would be an exaggeration. He said that although the powder was combustible, it was unclear whether it would have exploded. Bild newspaper quoted local police as saying the substance was powder scraped from commercial pyrotechnics and sparklers. Lawmaker Stephan Mayer of the conservative CSU party said the case was another example of rapid or "flash radicalisation". "This phenomenon is on the rise, it's a dangerous situation," he said on news channel NTV. "It shows we need to keep a much closer eye on the topic of political Islam." Germany has been spared the kind of large-scale jihadist atrocities that hit Paris and Brussels. But it was shaken by several assaults claimed by IS and carried out by asylum-seekers this year -- an axe rampage on a train that injured five, and a suicide bombing that wounded 15 people. In another case, a 16-year-old German-Moroccan girl in February stabbed a police officer in the neck with a kitchen knife, wounding him badly, allegedly on IS orders.
Germany – German police are investigating a "probable terrorist attack" after a man ploughed a lorry into a Christmas market in the heart of Berlin, killing 12 people and injuring 48 on the evening of the 19 Dec 16. The driver, a Pakistani asylum seeker who entered Germany last year, is being questioned. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said it would be "particularly sickening" if he were proven to be a refugee. He was reportedly known to police for minor crimes, but not terror links. German media say police have searched a refugee shelter at a defunct Berlin airport where the suspect was believed to be staying. Interior minister Thomas de Maiziere said the man was probably from Pakistan, and that his application for asylum had not yet been processed. The suspect denies involvement, Mr de Maiziere said. We have to assume this was a terrorist attack", Mrs Merkel said in a short statement. The attack happened in the shadow of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, which was damaged in a World War Two bombing raid and preserved as a symbol of peace. The truck, which was loaded with steel beams, veered into the market at 2014 hrs local time (1914 hrs GMT), one of its busiest times. It crashed through wooden huts and stands packed with tourists and locals. The DPA news agency said police believe the lorry drove 50-80 metres (160-260 ft) through the market area. German media have identified the suspect, citing security sources, as a 23-year-old Pakistani named Naved B who entered the country in either late 2015 or early 2016. Reports said Special Forces had stormed a hangar at Berlin's Tempelhof airport where they believed the suspect had been living in a shelter before the attack. Police spokesman Winfried Wenzel said he was seized after leaving the lorry and fleeing on foot for more than a mile (2km) towards the Tiergarten, a large public park. A witness who followed him called the police, who quickly detained the suspect near the Victory Column monument. Police said a Polish man, believed to be the original driver, had been found dead on the passenger seat. Ariel Zurawski, the Polish owner of the lorry, confirmed that his driver was missing and had been unreachable since 1600 hrs local (1500 hrs GMT) on the 19 Dec 16. "We don't know what happened to him," he said. "He's my cousin, I've known him since I was a kid. I can vouch for him." The truck was registered in Poland, but it is unclear whether it was travelling from Poland or returning from Italy, as some reports suggest. A senior member of Germany's anti-immigration AfD party, Marcus Pretzell, blamed Mrs Merkel for the attack, linking it to her open-door migration policy which saw the arrival of more than one million people last year.
Follow-on Report: Detectives interrogating chief suspect Naved B, 23, have said he has no blood on his clothes, no injuries and denies hijacking a 25-tonne lorry and using it to murder 12 people and badly hurt 48 more. A security services source, a senior police chief, told die Welt newspaper: 'We have the wrong man. So we have a new situation. The true perpetrator is still armed, at large and can cause further damage.' At 1900 hrs last night a juggernaut laden with steel cargo turned off its lights and ripped through stalls and shoppers at 40mph on Breitscheidplatz Square, outside the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in the German capital's main shopping area. The lorry's original Polish driver, who was transporting steel beams into Germany, was found shot dead in the. The gun has not been found. Police have towed away the vehicle its battered windscreen still had a wreath from a stall embedded in its shattered glass.
Follow-on Report – The Da’esh terror group claimed responsibility on the 20 Dec 16 for a truck attack on a crowded Berlin Christmas market. Da’esh said in a statement from its Amaq news agency that the attacker “in Berlin is a soldier of the Islamic State [Da’esh] and carried out the attack in response to calls for targeting citizens of the Crusader coalition”. Germany is not involved in anti-Da’esh combat operations, but has Tornado jets and a refuelling plane stationed in Turkey in support of the coalition fighting militants in Syria, as well as a frigate protecting a French aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean, among other assets.
Follow-on Report (21 Dec 16) – A manhunt is under way across Europe's Schengen states after prosecutors identified a suspect in the lorry attack on a Berlin Christmas market. A warrant was issued at midnight. Details were not given but media reports say the suspect is a Tunisian man named only as Anis A, born in 1992. His residence permit was found in the cab of the lorry. He may have been injured in a struggle with the driver, found dead in the cab. Some 150 police officers are said to be involved in searches in the Emmerich area of North Rhine-Westphalia, western Germany, where the suspect's permit was issued. Chancellor Angela Merkel has met her security cabinet to discuss the investigation into the attack. The Schengen area covers most EU states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. The Tunisian suspect is also known to use false names, security sources told German media agencies. His name was given using a German convention whereby suspects are identified by their first name and initial. He is reported to have travelled to Italy in 2012 and then on to Germany in 2015 where he applied for asylum and was granted temporary leave to stay in Apr 16. He is said to be known to police and was briefly detained in August with fake Italian identity documents. Sueddeutsche Zeitung reports that the suspect moved within the circle of an Islamist preacher, Ahmad Abdelazziz A, known as Abu Walaa, who was arrested in November. Interior Minister Thomas De Maiziere refused to confirm or deny media reports about the man but said that officers were still investigating his residential status. Polish citizen Lukasz Urban was found dead on the passenger seat with gunshot and stab wounds. I investigators quoted by German media say there is evidence that, despite being stabbed, Mr Urban wrestled him for the steering wheel. One official quoted by Bild newspaper said it appeared from the post-mortem examination that the driver had survived up to the attack and was shot dead when the truck came to a halt. No gun has been recovered. Ariel Zurawski, the owner of the Polish transport company, said he had been asked to identify Mr Urban from photographs. Police say they were acting on hundreds of tips from the public and are examining DNA traces from the cab of the truck. Prosecutor Peter Frank told reporters that the style of attack and the choice of target suggested Islamic extremism. Monday's incident mirrored the lorry attack on Bastille Day crowds in the French city of Nice on 14 July, which was also claimed by IS. Both IS and al-Qaeda have urged their followers to use vehicles as a means to attack crowds.
Follow-on Report 23 Dec 16 – he Berlin market attack suspect Anis Amri has been shot dead by police in Milan, Italian state prosecutors say. The man was approached by police during a routine patrol in the Sesto San Giovanni area of Milan at around 0300 hrs on the 23 Dec 16 (0200 hrs GMT). The fingerprints of the dead man match those of the Tunisian main suspect in the truck bombing in Berlin on Monday which killed 12 people, reports say. Separately, police arrested two people in the German city of Oberhausen on suspicion of planning an attack German officials have confirmed Anis Amri's fingerprints were found inside the truck that was used to kill 12 people and wound 49 others in Berlin on the evening of the 19 Dec 16.
Germany/Holland – Two brothers have been arrested in western Germany on suspicion of planning an attack at a shopping centre where a popular Christmas market is taking place near the Dutch border, police said. Special police units apprehended the two suspicious looking men in Duisburg at about 0045 hrs local time on the 23 Dec 16 as authorities say they may have been planning to attack the shopping center CentrO in Oberhausen. 'The 28- and 31-year-old brothers born in Kosovo are suspected of having prepared an attack on the CentrO in Oberhausen,' an Essen police statement reads. At the present time, it is determined at high pressure how far preparations have been made and whether other persons are involved.' Authorities at the CentrO shopping centre showed a heavy presence on the evening of the 22 Dec 16 due to the threat of the situation. 'In civilian clothes and in uniform they controlled the area, clearly visible to visitors and customers,' police said in the statement. Authorities said they are still working to establish how far the preparations for the potential attack at the shopping complex went and if there are other individuals involved. Acting on a tip-off from the intelligence services, police were deployed to the shopping complex and a nearby Christmas market in the western city of Oberhausen late they said. The names of the brothers were not released, and the police provided no further details. It's unclear if the men arrested in Duisburg are connected to the attack on Monday, where the suspect, Anis Amri, 24, was at large before being shot dead in Milan on the 23 Dec 16. The CentrO shopping complex in Oberhausen is the largest mall in Germany with more than 250 stores. It's located about 25miles from the border with the Netherlands just north of Düsseldorf.
Spain – Spanish authorities said on the 28 Dec 16 they had arrested two suspected jihadists in Madrid and found bullets and weapon magazines while conducting raids linked to the detentions. According to the Europa Press news agency, the magazines were of the type used for assault rifles such as the AK-47, but a police spokeswoman was unable to confirm this. The interior ministry said the two men were Spanish and had been detained for "glorifying terrorism," without giving any further details. The arrests come as Spain strengthens security during the holiday season. Authorities in Madrid are taking unprecedented measures for New Year's Eve, when thousands gather in the central Puerta del Sol square for traditional celebrations that see Spaniards swallow 12 grapes for each stroke of midnight. All those entering the square will be searched. Bollards will be used on nearby roads alongside police vans to guard against truck attacks like those that hit Nice in France in July, and Berlin on December 19. Barcelona has taken similar measures. According to Spanish authorities, 175 alleged jihadists have been detained since 2015, when Spain increased its terror alert to category four on a five-point scale. Spain has been mentioned on extremist websites as a possible attack target for historical reasons, given much of its territory was under Muslim rule from 711 to 1492. But unlike France or Belgium, the country is less exposed to the risk of return of radicalised nationals who went to fight abroad and plan to commit extremist acts on home soil. Only around 200 Spaniards are estimated to have gone abroad to fight, compared to thousands from nearby France and Belgium. Madrid, however, was hit by coordinated train bombings by an Al-Qaeda inspired group in March 2004 that left 191 dead.
Switzerland – A man burst into a Muslim prayer hall in the Swiss city of Zurich and started shooting, wounding at least three men. A body found a few hundred metres from the scene was that of the shooter who attacked an Islamic centre, police confirmed on the 20 Dec 16. At around 1730 hrs local on the 19 Dec 16 the unidentified attacker entered the Islamic centre where several worshippers were gathered and began firing, Zurich police said in a statement. He "fired several shots at the worshippers," police said. "Three men, aged 30, 35 and 56, were injured, some seriously. The suspect then escaped from the mosque in the direction of Central Station," it said. Witnesses described the gunman as a man aged about 30 wearing dark clothes and a dark woollen cap, witnesses said. About a dozen people were inside the prayer hall at the time of the attack, the ATS news agency reported, citing a number of people on site, adding a prayer service had been scheduled for 1645 hrs local. The worshippers were mainly from North Africa, Somalia and Eritrea. A body was discovered on the river bank, underneath the bridge, and had been draped with a white sheet. Zurich police said on the 20 Dec 16 on Twitter that "we are working on the assumption that the dead person who was found is the culprit in the shooting at the Islamic Center in Zurich". A number of Swiss mosques, including one near Zurich and the main one in Geneva, have, in recent months, been accused in the media of allowing or encouraging the "radicalisation" of their worshippers, especially the younger members of their congregations. Switzerland, a country of some eight million people, reportedly has some 450,000 Muslims.
United kingdom/Da’esh – The Islamic State terror group wants to carry out a mass casualty attack in Britain and has "no moral barrier" to using chemical weapons, a minister has warned. Security minister Ben Wallace said there were reports of IS using chemical weapons in Syria and Iraq, where it controls large areas, and that the Moroccan authorities apprehended a cell in Feb 16 which was harbouring substances that could be used to either make a bomb or a "deadly toxin". He also pointed to a recent Europol report which warned of the chemical threat and the potential realisation of "everybody's worst fear". Mr Wallace said: "Experts have warned that their ambition is a mass casualty attack and they have no moral barrier to using whatever means possible." On the 31 Dec 16 he told the Sunday Times: "The ambition of IS or Da’esh is definitely mass casualty attacks. They want to harm as many people as possible and terrorise as many people as possible. "They have no moral objection to using chemical weapons against populations and if they could, they would in this country. "The casualty figures which could be involved would be everybody's worst fear. "We have certainly seen reports of them using it in Syria and Iraq (and) we have certainly seen aspiration for it in Europe." Mr Wallace also warned about the threat from "the enemy within" as terror groups, Russia and cyber attackers were trying to plant "traitors" in the Government, the military and leading businesses. "There are traitors. We have to be on our guard for the enemy within," he said. "The insider threat, as we would call it, is real and it can be exploited and there are people trying to do that as we speak." The warning comes after a year in which Europe suffered a spate of terror attacks using less sophisticated means. In two of the most high-profile attacks in Nice and Berlin, lone attackers drove lorries through crowds of people celebrating Bastille Day and browsing a Christmas market respectively. IS claimed responsibility for both attacks. In March, three co-ordinated suicide bombers attacked the airport and metro system in Brussels, with IS claiming responsibility.