Suicide bomber in German music festival attack pledged allegiance to Islamic State

Posted at 1:20 PM, Jul 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-25 13:25:53-04

ANSBACH, Germany — The Syrian suicide bomber who injured 15 people Sunday in Ansbach, Germany, left behind a video pledging allegiance to Islamic State leader, officials said Monday.

Police investigators work at the site of a suicide bombing in Ansbach, southern Germany, on July 25, 2016. (DANIEL KARMANN/AFP/Getty Images)

Police investigators work at the site of a suicide bombing in Ansbach, Germany on Monday. (AFP/Getty Images)

The Islamic State-affiliated media group Amaq also claimed the attacker was an IS “soldier” in a statement the group’s supporters posted online Monday, but there is no evidence he was in contact with the terrorist group or was directed to carry out an attack.

In the video left on a mobile phone, the 27-year-old Syrian announced his threat to carry out an attack “as an act of revenge against Germans, because they obstruct Islam,” Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said at a news conference.

The man said the attack would be committed in the name of Allah as retaliation for the killing of Muslims and pledged allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The bomber, who has not been named, was killed.

“I believe that after this video we cannot doubt that this attack was an Islamist terror attack,” Herrmann said.

Fifteen people were injured in Sunday night’s blast in Ansbach, four of them seriously, Ansbach Mayor Carla Seidel said at a news conference Monday.

The attack has further rattled the German public following a week of violence in southern Germany that began July 18, when an immigrant teen, apparently inspired by IS, stabbed passengers on a train in Wurzburg in Bavaria.

That was followed by a shooting spree Friday at in a busy shopping district in Munich in which nine people were killed.

The wave of violence has fueled criticism of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s welcoming stance toward immigrants, with the hashtag #Merkelsommer, or “Merkel summer,” circulating on social media.

Germany accepted more than 1 million asylum seekers last year, and some Germans have expressed fears that terrorists might have entered the country among them, or that disaffected youths among the refugees could be susceptible to radicalization.

String of attacks

The Ansbach bombing is the fourth attack in southern Germany — and the third in the state of Bavaria — in recent days, which also came on the heels of the Islamic State’s Bastille Day attack in Nice, France, that killed 84 people.

Speaking at a press conference Monday, Hermann, the interior minister, acknowledged it had been a “very terrible week” in Bavaria.

“It has been almost nine years now that I am interior minister,” Hermann said. “And I have not had, thank goodness, to experience something like this during these nine years until now. And I do hope that I will not experience something like that so soon and fast.”

A week ago, a 17-year-old who had arrived in Germany as an unaccompanied minor from Pakistan or Afghanistan carried out a stabbing attack on a train in Wurzburg, about 70 kilometers —or 45 miles — from Ansbach.

The attack, which authorities said appeared motivated by IS propaganda, has left four people hospitalized, including one in an induced coma, medical officials said.

On Friday, an 18-year-old with dual German and Iranian nationality went on a shooting spree in a busy shopping district in the Bavarian capital, Munich, killing nine people before killing himself.

Police said the gunman was a mentally troubled individual who was obsessed with mass shootings and may have planned the attack for a year. Authorities have not found a link to terror groups.

And on Sunday, hours before the Ansbach attack, a 21-year-old Syrian asylum seeker killed a woman with a machete in the city of Reutlingen, located in the neighboring southern German state of Baden-Wurttemberg.

The attacker had been granted asylum in October after passing security checks, although police said he was known to authorities for property thefts and assault, German Interior Thomas de Maiziere said. The woman was 45 and from Poland, police said.

Police said the deadliest attack — the Munich rampage — was carried out by a German-born teen who had no apparent links to Islamist terror groups or the recent wave of migration, but the violence has fueled public concerns about the security ramifications of Germany’s welcoming stance toward migrants entering Europe, the majority of them from Muslim countries.

Germans were shocked by sexual assaults of women blamed on immigrants at New Year’s Eve festivities in Cologne and other cities, and three Syrian men were arrested last month on suspicions they were planning to carry out a mass casualty attack in Dusseldorf.