Doubt has been raised by German authorities on whether a teenager who went on an axe rampage on a Bavarian train was actually an Afghan refugee, stating on Wednesday that he might have been from Pakistan.
A video was released by the militant Islamic State (IS) group on Tuesday supposedly featuring the 17-year-old, who was shot dead by police after the train attack in which he injured five people, two of whom are in critical condition.
Sources close to the German security services, however, now believe he may have pretended to be Afghan on arrival in Germany in 2015 so as to have a better chance at acquiring asylum.
Television station ZDF reported that the IS video showcasing the youth has him using phrases of a dialect known as Pashto which is spoken in Pakistan and not Afghanistan. Experts have also pointed out that his accent is evidently Pakistani.
Additionally, a Pakistani document was discovered in his room.
“Mohammed Riyadh” which was the name used in the video contradicts the name under which he registered in Germany, Riaz Khan.
The video has been authenticated by the German authorities.
Authorities also claim, on Tuesday, to have found a hand-painted IS flag and what they describe as a suicide letter among the attacker’s possessions.
“The perpetrator of the stabbing attack in Germany was one of the fighters of the Islamic State,” the IS-linked Amaq news agency stated.
The assailant was described by locals as “calm and even-keeled” and a “devout Muslim who did not appear to be radical or a fanatic”, Joachim Herrmann, interior minister of Bavaria state had believed.
“According to the investigation thus far, there was no evidence on site to point to him belonging to the Islamist network,” Herrmann said.
A farewell letter was later found by police apparently intended for his father in which he voiced out that the world’s Muslims “must defend themselves”.
“Now pray for me that I can take revenge on non-believers, pray for me that I can get to heaven,” the note said.
According to prosecutors, he shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) three times as he proceeded through the carriage.
An eyewitness expressed to DPA news agency that the train carrying about 25 people looked “like a slaughterhouse”.
So far, Germany has avoided a large-scale jihadist attack seen in the southern French city of Nice in the previous week, when 31-year-old Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel made use of a truck to mow down 84 people.
IS claimed the attack was their doing without the assailant having major ties to the group.
About 1.1 million people were allowed into Germany last year, with Syrians characterizing the largest number, followed by Afghans.
Hermann mentioned that the assailant had arrived in the country as an unaccompanied minor in Germany in June 2015 and had been staying with a foster family in the area for the past two weeks.
“We must determine what the motive was and to what extent he really belonged to the Islamist scene or self-radicalised very recently,” Herrmann stated, adding that the assailant lacked a criminal record in Germany.
A family of tourists from Hong Kong had four of its members injured in the attack, with two of them in intensive care, with a passer-by also getting hurt.
The elder daughter of the Yau family reported to the local media that her parents had tried to defend her sister’s boyfriend when the axe-wielding assailant launched for him.
Sylvia, aged 30, told the Hong-Kong based Apple Daily newspaper on Tuesday night, “Originally the assailant was attacking my sister’s boyfriend and when my mother and father saw, they went up to get in the way and then they got injured.”
Her father and sister’s boyfriend are presently in intensive care with severe head injuries. Her sister Tracy, 26 and mother, 58, also got injured. However, Sylvia’s 17-year-old brother remained unharmed.
Sylvia’s husband, who went unnamed, said: “My father-in-law’s friends received pictures and said they were having lots of fun.”
Similarly in May, a mentally unstable 27-year-old man waving a knife killed one person and injured three others on another Bavarian regional train.
Earlier on, reports showed that he had yelled “Allahu Akbar”; however, later on, police stated that there was no evidence showing a political motive. He is currently being held in a psychiatric hospital.
A 15-year-old girl of Turkish origin, in February, stabbed a policeman in the neck with a kitchen knife at Hanover train station which was described by prosecutors as an IS-inspired attack.
The Bavarian interior minister, Herrmann warned against discriminating asylum seekers, before ZDF revealed the attacker’s nationality.
“It is undisputed that he was a refugee and if he hadn’t been there, he wouldn’t have committed this act. But I don’t think that we should make blanket judgments in any way about refugees.”