The family members of the 12 murder victims from last December’s Christmas terror attack, which included the Israeli Dalia Elyakim, published a blistering open letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Der Spiegel magazine on Friday, accusing her government of deeply flawed anti-terrorism policies; failing to prevent the Islamic State attack in Berlin; and mistreatment of the survivors in the aftermath of the act of vehicular terrorism.
“Chancellor, the attack on Breitscheidplatz is a tragic consequence of the political inaction of your government,” the family members wrote in their letter, adding that Germany lacks “basic professionalism in its approach to terrorism.”
Dalia Elyakim’s husband, Rami, who was wounded in the attack, was one of the authors of the letter taking Merkel to task for her government’s failure to stop the Tunisian terrorist Anis Amri before he drove a truck into a crowded Christmas market on December 19, 2016. The Islamic State terrorist also injured over 70 people in the ramming attack. The 11 other fatalities at the market came from Italy, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Germany and Italy. Amri hijacked a truck from a Polish driver whom he murdered before committing the attack.
“At a time when the threat posed by dangerous Islamists has greatly increased, you have failed to push ahead with expanding resources and reforming the confused official structures for fighting these dangers,” wrote the family members of Germany’s worst Islamic terrorism attack.
“Chancellor Merkel, you have, nearly one year after the attack, neither personally nor in writing condoled us. In our judgment you have not lived up to your office,” the family members wrote, adding that the terror attack not only affected the victims but the entire Federal Republic of Germany.
The family members said that it “is a question of respect and decency, and actually quite obvious, that you, as head of the government and in the name of the federal government, recognize the loss of our families because of this act of terrorism.”
The signatories added that the German government’s current anti-terrorism policy is “irresponsible.”
German authorities had monitored Amri, who was shot dead in Italy four days after the Berlin attack, and were aware of his radical Islamism. The family members outlined severe incompetence among German law enforcement agencies in preventing Amri’s act of terrorism.
The Tunisian terrorist entered Germany as part of the refugee and migrant wave. Amri had been determined, by Germany’s Center for Terror Defense, to be a threat to Germany’s public safety since January 2016.
The lack of information and empathy from the German authorities dominated the direct aftermath of the terror attack, wrote the family members, who were left to their own resources to search city hospitals for their missing relatives.
They complained that the Interior Ministry ordered a block on information and that they were “rebuked” by police officials for their attempts to secure information about their missing relatives. A total of 72 hours had elapsed before family members could begin to identify whether those relatives died in the Islamic State attack. In their letter, they urged Merkel to evaluate the low levels of compensation for terror victims in Germany and provide meaningful aid to the families.
The Jerusalem Post has reported over the years on Germany’s growing Sunni and Shi’ite terrorist movements. An estimated 1,000 German Jihadis departed to fight in the Iraqi and Syrian war theaters. “We see the danger of children who socialized with and were indoctrinated by jihadists returning to Germany from the war zones,” Hans-Georg Maassen, head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, said in October. “This could allow a new generation of jihadists to be raised here.”
Germany’s interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, has refused to outlaw all of the US-classified terrorist-entity Hezbollah – a Shi’ite organization that recruits members and fund-raises in the Federal Republic. Germany has only banned the so-called military wing of Hezbollah and continues to allow Hezbollah’s political wing to operate. According to Germany’s 2016 intelligence report, 950 Hezbollah operatives were then active in the country. When asked if Germany will outlaw Hezbollah, the interior ministry told the Post on Twitter, “We, in principle, do not comment on possible future bans.”
Benjamin Weinthal is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow him on Twitter @BenWeinthal.
Follow the Foundation for Defense of Democracies on Twitter @FDD.