Police discovered a hand-painted Islamic State flag in the room of the Afghan teen who attacked passengers on a train in Germany, the interior minister for the state of Bavaria said on Tuesday. The terrorist group claimed responsibility for the assault.
Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) has said the attacker was one of its fighters, according to IS-affiliated Amaq news agency.
Police have also found documents suggesting the Afghan teen who attacked passengers on the train in Wurzburg had links with IS, German N24 channel reported, citing a source close to the investigation, RIA Novosti reports.
“It is clear that apart from Islamic State terror group’s flag, several documents that indicate of the suspect’s links to IS have been discovered in the suspect’s room,” N24 reported, adding that the documents have been taken by police for further analysis.
In an interview to public broadcaster ARD, Minister Joachim Herrmann earlier said it was too early to speculate about the motives of the 17-year-old. He added that police are currently trying to figure out whether the teen was a member of an Islamist group or a self-radicalized lone wolf.
The minister confirmed earlier reports by German media that the teenager shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is great) as he charged at his victims with an ax.
According to initial findings the attacker was a 17-year-old Afghan refugee who arrived in Germany two years ago as an unaccompanied minor. He lived in the district of Würzburg for some time, in a town of Ochsenfurt. For two weeks prior to the incident, he was living with a foster family. They will now have to be questioned, Herrman said.
The attack left five people injured and 14 more in shock. The minister said two of the victims were in a critical condition.
Four of the injured were members of a Chinese family from Hong Kong. This was confirmed by Hong Kong Governor Leung Chun-Ying. He condemned the attack and sent the victims and their families his condolences. He also said representatives of the Hong Kong Economic Representation in Berlin would visit the victims in hospital.
The attack comes just over two weeks after Germany’s spy chief Hans Georg Maassen announced that his domestic intelligence agency had obtained information on 17 IS militants who had entered Europe under the guise of refugees.
“There is strong evidence that… 17 people have arrived under Islamic State instructions,” Maassen said.
Even Chancellor Angela Merkel, who’s been extensively criticized by a significant section of the German population for her open-door policy towards refugees, recently publicly acknowledged that some extremists could be taking advantage of the migrant influx to enter Germany and the European Union, saying that “in part, the refugee flow was even used to smuggle terrorists.”
The attack in Wurzburg is the second IS-linked act of violence within the European Union in less than a week, after the tragedy in France, in which a Tunisian truck driver ran down 84 people during celebrations in Nice. IS claimed that attack as well, and although the personality of the driver has its controversies, authorities acknowledged the fact he was a radical Islamist, recently radicalized.
Both attacks mirror the warning that recently came from FBI Director James Comey, who predicted that IS will spread worldwide as it prepares for the potential fall of its so-called caliphate in Iraq and Syria, growing ever more “desperate” to launch attacks elsewhere.