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Germany

Frankfurt shooter described as Islamist-influenced solo attacker

Prosecutors believe the man charged with killing two US airmen and severely wounding two more at Frankfurt Airport was acting alone. An online video apparently motivated him to commit the crime.

Two armed police officers patrolling Frankfurt airport

Airport police helped arrest the presumed shooter

The suspect in the killing of two US airmen in Frankfurt on Wednesday was intentionally targeting servicemen bound for Afghanistan, German prosecutors said Friday.

At a press conference in Karlsruhe, prosecutors said the alleged shooter wanted to "wreak revenge for the deployment of Americans in Afghanistan." However, they believe he plotted and carried out the act alone.

"For the moment, this involves the act of an Islamist-influenced solo offender," prosecutor Rainer Griesbaum told reporters. "There is no evidence that this was an act in conjunction with other persons, let alone that there was any membership in a terrorist association."

Arid U., 21, has been officially charged with two counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder. He told police, in an interrogation that investigators say cannot yet be considered "a fully comprehensive confession," that an online video on YouTube motivated him to attack US troops.

The video purportedly showed US soldiers raiding a home in Afghanistan and then raping the daughter of the family.

"He could not get the pictures out of his head and wanted with his actions to prevent American soldiers going to Afghanistan and carrying out such acts," Griesbaum said.

The prosecutor said this case appeared to be a testament to the potential power of Islamist propaganda posted on the Internet.

Jammed pistol stopped attack

A bus steering wheel and driver's window, pierced by a bullet hole.

The shooter's rampage was cut short by a faulty weapon

According to the suspect's description of the attack, he walked up and asked an airman standing by the US military bus for a cigarette.

Having sparked up a conversation, he asked whether the soldiers were bound for Afghanistan. When the servicemen answered yes and turned to get on the bus, he was shot point-blank in the back of the head.

Arid U. is then accused of entering the bus, fatally shooting the driver in the head and then shooting two more servicemen in the chest and head, wounding them severely.

His pistol jammed when he tried to shoot a fifth man. This US soldier chased the shooter as he tried to flee, eventually catching him, with police assistance, in the airport terminal.

"He said he had decided to perform this act when a chance came along," said Peter Brustmann, a senior Frankfurt police detective. "That was why he carried his weaponry with him. As he describes it, he had no knowledge whatever that at this moment, in this place, there would be a bus with American servicemen."

Considering that the suspect appears to have acted alone, Griesbaum said the attack does not affect the general security situation in Germany.

Author: Mark Hallam (AFP, AP, dpa)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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