Berlin Truck Terror Suspect and the Curious Matter of ID Papers Left Behind

Not the First Time a Terror Suspect Apparently Left a Paper Trail -- or Was Previously Known

Berlin Truck Attack
Photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from DutchGamingCommunity DGC / YouTube, Bundesrepublik Deutschland / Wikimedia and Screenshot

Today, WhoWhatWhy has seen heavy traffic coming from Google searches that point to a story we ran almost two years ago. Why the sudden interest? It took us only a moment to discover the connection: We had written about the odd phenomenon of terrorists repeatedly leaving ID papers behind at the scene. And now, with the Berlin truck attack, we see yet another such example.

We also see that, in a pattern we have previously reported on with other terror incidents, the suspect was already known to authorities — had even been in custody, but was released.

From CNN:

The Berlin truck attack suspect had been arrested in August with forged documents on his way to Italy but was released by a judge, a German security official tells CNN.

The suspect’s identity papers were found inside the truck used in Monday’s attack on a Christmas market, which left 12 people dead, German security officials said.

The suspect was known to German security services as someone in contact with radical Islamist groups, and had been assessed as posing a risk, Interior Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia Ralf Jaeger told reporters.

The suspect was believed to have entered Germany in July 2015, Jaeger said. His asylum request was refused in June, and Tunisian authorities were informed when the deportation process started.

What does it all mean? That’s for you to decide. You can start by reading the original article, below.

Original story:

One intriguing—if barely discussed—aspect of the Paris massacre was the quick progress authorities made in their investigation.

According to CNN, this was thanks to a staggering error—by one of the two now-dead alleged perpetrators. The man, Said Kouachi, reportedly left his identification card in the abandoned getaway vehicle. “It was their only mistake,” Dominique Rizet, police and justice consultant for CNN-affiliate BFMTV, opined.

Said Kouachi's ID card. Allegedly found in the getaway car.

Said Kouachi’s ID card. Allegedly found in the getaway car.

2Nonetheless, it was a most curious mistake.

After all, this is the same man who went to such trouble to seemingly hide his identity by wearing a mask.

***

Intriguingly, such apparent gaffes have marked other watershed violence. Consider these examples, and draw your own conclusion:

The Bundle of James Earl Ray: The accused killer of Martin Luther King escaped from a prison shortly before the attack, and left several items on the sidewalk near the assassination site—in a bundle that included his rifle, binoculars, clothing, his prison radio, and a newspaper clipping revealing where King would be staying.

The Wallet of Lee Harvey Oswald: The alleged assassin of John F. Kennedy and killer of Officer J.D.Tippit purportedly dropped his wallet, which was found at the scene of Tippit’s murder. To some, this appeared a little too neat. In any case, original law enforcement reports with this scenario were almost immediately replaced by another version: that the police took the wallet from him after he was arrested. (See “Assignment: Oswald” by former FBI agent James P. Hosty.)

The Visa of Satam al-Suqami: This identify document of one of the alleged 9/11 hijackers somehow survived unscathed a few blocks from the twin towers, though the plane itself was virtually obliterated.

The Passports belonging to Ziad Jarrah and Saeed al-Ghamdi: The passports of two alleged hijackers of United Airlines Flight 93 supposedly survived the fiery crash in Pennsylvania that left the aircraft itself charred and widely scattered—with one passport entirely intact.

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