December 19, 2016: Berlin Christmas market attack

On this day in 2016 an ISIS-inspired Islamist terrorist ploughed a vehicle into a Christmas market in Berlin killing 12 and wounding dozens.

BERLIN, GERMANY – The juxtaposition of the birth of Jesus and the deaths of visitors to a Christmas market is a terrible one.

Ah, Christmas markets! Who does not like them? Even if you are not Christian or religious or whatever, you would have to be a particularly hateful Scrooge not to enjoy sauntering through one.

At this time last year I was in Estonia speaking at a history of intelligence conference (NB – that meant I had to get on an airplane and fly to Tallinn: do you remember ‘flying’??). When I was not at the conference itself I wandered through that city’s Christmas market.

Not surprisingly, the area was busy. It was indeed beautiful but, as a former counter terrorism analyst, I had one predominant thought: what a great place for a terrorist attack!

I had good reason to go down that road.

On this day in 2016

An Islamist terrorist hijacked a 40-ton truck and crashed it into the Christmas market at Breitschiedplatz in Berlin, killing 12 people died and injuring another 100. The terrorist, Tunisian Anis Amri was shot dead by Italian police on 23 December in Milan after a Europe-wide manhunt: he had stolen the truck after killing its Polish driver.

To my brothers everywhere, fight for the sake of Allah. Protect our religion. Everyone can do this in their own way. People who can fight should fight, even in Europe. God willing, we will slaughter you like pigs.

Anis Amiri

Islamic State (ISIS) issued a statement in which it said one of its “soldiers” carried out the attack, without offering evidence. Then again, it did not need to. One of the successful outcomes of the terrorist group is that many act in its name even if there is no real link.

Nothing breeds success like success, even in the realm of terrorism.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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