Daesh reinvidicou atentado de Berlim, mas não se sabe quem foi o autor
Polícia libertou o suspeito detido por falta de provas. Refugiados na Alemanha temem represálias, por causa do clima de suspeição.
CLARA BARATA 20 de Dezembro de 2016, 21:18
Dor e interrogações. Foi assim que Berlim ficou, 24 horas depois de um camião ter avançado sobre um mercado de Natal, esmagando quem apanhou pela frente – pelo menos 12 pessoas morreram, 48 ficaram feridas, 14 delas com gravidade. A polícia alemã teve de libertar o único suspeito detido, um refugiado paquistanês, por falta de provas. O verdadeiro autor do atentado, que foi reclamado pelo Daesh, está ainda à solta.
Naved B., de 23 anos, foi capturado pouco depois de o camião ter investido contra o mercado de Natal da praça Breitscheid, junto à igreja memorial Kaiser Wilhelm, meio em ruína desde a II Guerra Mundial, tal como a deixaram os bombardeamentos dos Aliados, para recordar esses tempos de cólera. Mas a polícia admitiu desde cedo que podia não ter o homem certo – que, aliás, dizia ser inocente.
As testemunhas que tinham visto o condutor sair do camião afinal não o tinham mantido sempre debaixo de olho. E, diz a revista Spiegel, uma vez que a polícia está a considerar que o condutor polaco do camião foi morto a tiro, esperava encontrar vestígios de pólvora na roupa ou nas mãos do suspeito – o que não se verificou. “As análises forenses até agora não provaram a presença do suspeito durante os crimes na cabina do camião”, disse o Procurador Federal, em comunicado.
Ao fim do dia, a agência de propaganda do Daesh reivindicou o ataque. O autor “é um soldado do Estado Islâmico e executou a operação em resposta aos apelos de escolher alvos nos países da coligação” que combate a organização no Iraque e na Síria. No entanto, parece tratar-se de uma reivindicação oportunista e não de um atentado organizado pelo Daesh.
Por toda a Europa, a segurança foi reforçada nos típicos mercados de Natal, e nos locais onde se juntam muitas pessoas. “Mas não se podem transformar estes mercados em fortalezas”, disse Klaus Kandt, o dirigente máximo da polícia estadual berlinense. “Nunca conseguiremos eliminar completamente o risco.”
O condutor polaco do camião chegou à capital alemã e falou com a sua mulher pelas 15h de segunda-feira, segundo revelam os dados do GPS, disse o seu primo e proprietário da empresa para a qual trabalhava, Ariel Zurawski. “Às 15h45 pode-se ver o camião a andar para trás e para a frente, como se alguém estivesse a aprender a conduzi-lo. Percebi que havia alguma coisa errada”, disse, citado pela Reuters.
Se se confirmasse que um refugiado recente – Naved B. tinha chegado à Alemanha no fim do ano de 2015 – era o autor do atentado, ia acontecer algo muito feio, avisou a chanceler alemã. “Seria algo particularmente difícil de suportar para nós”, afirmou Angela Merkel. “Seria especialmente repugnante para muitos alemães que diariamente se envolvem na ajuda aos refugiados, e contra as muitas pessoas que precisam mesmo da nossa protecção e tentam integrar-se no nosso país”, declarou a chanceler, que ao fim do dia se juntou à missa em memória das vítimas, na igreja de Kaiser Wilhelm, junto ao local do atentado.
O ministro do Interior, Thomas de Maiziére, reiterou à televisão ZDF a convicção de que se trata de um atentado terrorista – mas não é possível ainda compreender quais as suas motivações políticas. Aliás, o mesmo aconteceu com o ataque de Nice, em que o então ministro do Interior francês, Bernard Cazeneuve, disse que o homem que matou 86 pessoas com um camião, que tinha alguns problemas de saúde mental, se radicalizou de forma “extremamente rápida”.
O receio é o de que este ataque marque o momento decisivo da viragem da política de “boas vindas” alemã em relação aos refugiados – ainda que o suspeito tenha sido libertado. “Se o culpado for um refugiado, a política de ‘portas abertas’ de Merkel terá uma mudança decisiva”, escreveu no Guardian Josef Joffe, director do semanário alemão Die Zeit.
Em 2015, cerca de 800 mil refugiados do Médio Oriente entraram na Alemanha, graças a um gesto de boa vontade com origem no passado negro do país – “um acto de redenção histórica” do nazismo, chama-lhe Joffe. Mas esse desejo de expiação começa a fraquejar, e começam a ser impostos limites, que tendem a agravar-se com os receios do terrorismo. “A Alemanha, que até agora tem tido sorte, juntou-se agora ao clube de alvos do terrorismo no Ocidente”, escreveu o director do Die Zeit.
Angela Merkel, o alvo virtual
Os refugiados na Alemanha percebem que correm perigo, pelo ódio que este ataque está já a suscitar, nas redes sociais e não só. Por exemplo, um grupo de extrema-direita quer fazer uma manifestação quarta-feira a começar no Zoo, perto do local do atentado, sob o lema "Fechem as fronteiras – sangue nas mãos de Merkel", diz o jornal Berliner Zeitung.
“Estamos preocupados com a forma como os alemães vão olhar para nós depois deste atentado”, disse ao Guardian Ibrahim Sufi, um sírio de 26 anos. “Não temos nada a ver com este crime”, disse Ammar Wazzaz, outro refugiado sírio, de 45 anos, de Idlib. “Estamos muito gratos à Alemanha.”
terça-feira, 20 de dezembro de 2016
Daesh reinvidicou atentado de Berlim, mas não se sabe quem foi o autor / Deadly attack on German soil is worst fear for Angela Merkel / Berlin attack exposes Angela Merkel’s right flank / Germany's Nightmare, Merkel's Nightmare
Deadly attack on German soil is worst fear for Angela Merkel
German chancellor is again under fire from political opponents who lay the blame for Berlin attack on her refugee strategy
Philip Oltermann in Berlin
Tuesday 20 December 2016 19.52 GMT
Angela Merkel has vowed she will not allow Germany to be “paralysed by fear” after rightwing populist politicians rushed to blame the chancellor and her refugee policies for Monday evening’s deadly truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market.
Speaking at her chancellery on Tuesday morning, Merkel was quick to sketch out a worst-case scenario – unusually for a politician who prefers to deal in pragmatic solutions.
“Given our current information, we have to assume we are dealing with a terrorist attack,” she told reporters. But she added: “We do not want to live paralysed by the fear of evil. Even if it is difficult in these hours, we will find the strength for the life we want to live in Germany – free, together and open.”
Political opponents rejected her plea for unity, renewing their criticism of her refugee strategy and laying the blame for the attack unambiguously at her door.
“The environment in which such acts can spread was carelessly and systematically imported over the past one and a half years,” said Frauke Petry, leader of the rightwing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD). “It was not an isolated incident and it won’t be the last.”
Petry’s partner, MEP Marcus Pretzell, posted a message on Twitter for what he called the “Let’s-wait-and-see brigade” less than an hour after the attack: “This is what happens when you wait and see”.
Horst Seehofer, the leader of Merkel’s Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, criticised her policies in more diplomatic but no less forceful terms: “We owe it to the victims, to those affected and to the whole population to rethink our immigration and security policy and to change it.”
When she appeared before the television cameras on Tuesday morning, Merkel did not shy away from the possible ramifications of the attacker being identified as a refugee or migrant. “I know that it would be particularly hard to bear for all of us if it was confirmed that a person committed this crime who asked for protection and asylum in Germany,” she said.
That confirmation appeared to follow soon after the end of her press conference, only to be withdrawn just a couple of hours later.
As Merkel, together with the foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and Berlin’s mayor, Michael Müller, were laying down flowers at the site where the truck had crashed into the side of a Christmas market, the chief of Berlin’s police admitted it was unclear whether the suspect they had arrested shortly after the attack was indeed the driver behind the deadly rampage. Later, the man – a 23-year-old Pakistani citizen who had arrived in Germany on 31 December 2015 – was released.
The political significance of Monday night’s tragedy, however, had by then been made clear.
At the end of a year in which Merkel has seen some of her closest allies on the international stage succumb to populist anger – including US President Barack Obama, David Cameron in Britain, François Hollande in France and Matteo Renzi in Italy – and just before the start of a year in which she is determined to avoid a similar fate, a deadly attack on German soil was precisely what her supporters feared most.
Whatever the ongoing investigations into the perpetrator’s motives reveal, the German chancellor will be faced with part of her electorate asking if the tragedy came about as a direct result of her policy decisions last year, when Merkel kept open Germany’s borders for refugees stranded in Hungary.
Reactions to the Berlin attack have already shown the extent to which an answer to that question is ideological. Hajo Funke, a politics professor at Berlin’s Free University, suggested that Merkel would get little political mileage out of atoning for past decisions. “Germany’s voters will choose politicians based on whether they have workable political answers, not empty promises,” he said. “The AfD has no actual solutions to the terrorist problem and 90% of the population sees that.”
Merkel’s approval ratings dropped considerably after two terrorist attacks in southern Germany in the summer, but recently recovered to the levels the chancellor enjoyed before the start of the refugee crisis.
While recent polls have put Petry’s party on 12-13%, Funke argued that the “base of political power” in Germany’s coalition-based political system would continue to lie with Merkel’s Christian Democrats, currently on 33-36%, the centre-left Social Democrats (21-23%) and the Green party (10-11%).
Yet in the wake of Monday’s attack, even shoring up that base of support will require Merkel to do more to assure her electorate that she can guarantee their safety. At the Christian Democrats’ conference earlier this month, it was clear that a party that once stood faithfully behind its leader now contained a backbench cabal agitating for a rightward lurch.
Merkel has repeatedly shown that she is less averse to populist gestures on a domestic stage than her international admirers give her credit for: since September 2015, her government has gradually restricted the list of countries whose citizens can rightfully claim asylum in Germany, a point underlined by a series of high-profile deportations to Afghanistan that commenced last week.
Last month, the German chancellor even endorsed her party’s proposal for a ban of the full facial veil. She placed a caveat on her demand in characteristic style with the phrase “wherever it is legally possible” – a move echoed on Tuesday when she vowed that the perpetrator of the Berlin truck attack would be punished “as severely as our laws demand”.
Even in the centre of the political spectrum, the room for manoeuvre is not limitless, however.
After Monday’s attack, and following a high-profile hunt for a man filmed kicking a young woman down a flight of stairs at a Berlin metro station, there may be an opportunity for Merkel to take a more hawkish stance on the use of CCTV surveillance in public space, traditionally a sensitive issue in privacy-conscious Germany.
But after almost two years of a highly polemicised political debate over the refugee crisis, some policy avenues are now permanently closed to the chancellor.
A set upper limit on the number of refugees who can enter the country – which many in her party believe would have reassured traditional conservatives – is out of the question because it would amount to a climbdown in her ongoing standoff with Seehofer and thus a serious loss of face.
Merkel has gone way beyond the point where she can ever win back members of the AfD and their dyed-in-the-wool supporters. Arguably she does not need to, but a loss of political authority, and a party that tacks right while she steers left, could fatally undermine her campaign for a fourth term in next year’s elections.
Berlin attack exposes Angela Merkel’s right flank
As a year ago after the mass assaults in Cologne, a public outrage focuses criticism on the German chancellor’s open door migration policy.
By JANOSCH DELCKER 12/20/16, 8:29 PM CET Updated 12/20/16, 8:31 PM CET
BERLIN — As flags on government buildings across Germany hang at half-mast in homage to the victims of Berlin’s Christmas market attack, Angela Merkel’s opponents aren’t waiting to capitalize on the tragedy to weaken the 62-year-old chancellor’s 2017 re-election campaign.
With the perpetrator apparently still on the run, after police released the Pakistani asylum-seeker they arrested immediately after the attack that killed 12 people and injured 48, Merkel already faces accusations that her refugee policy put Germany in mortal danger.
“We must not be under any illusion. The environment for such deeds was imported negligently and systematically throughout the last year and a half,” said Frauke Petry, leader of the far-right party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD).
By leveraging public anger at Merkel’s decision in autumn 2015 to grant safe passage to refugees stranded in Hungary, the AfD has seen its support in opinion polls rise from 4 percent in August 2015 to around 12 percent now. Following success in regional elections — it overtook Merkel’s conservatives in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state in September — the anti-immigrant party is likely to enter the Bundestag, parliament’s lower house, in the fall.
Shortly before Monday’s attack in Berlin, German news agency DPA reported that the AfD leadership had chosen a campaign strategy that would focus on the concerns of ordinary people via what an internal document described as “carefully planned provocations.” It hopes to trigger nervous reactions from its rivals, and the more they try to stigmatize the party, ”the more positive this will prove for the party’s profile,” the DPA report quoted the document.
In retrospect, it sounds like the blueprint for the reaction of Marcus Pretzell, the AfD’s candidate in next year’s regional election in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, to Monday’s attack. Moments after the news broke, he tweeted: “These are Merkel’s dead.”
Ralf Stegner, deputy leader of the Social Democrats (SPD), responded by accusing Pretzell and his party of attempting to capitalize politically on the attack. It was a “disgusting political exploitation of this tragedy” when everyone should be showing “respect for the victims,” he wrote on Twitter.
The fact that it was the SPD — currently Merkel’s coalition allies, but which will challenge her for the chancellorship next year — that defended the chancellor is symptomatic of the problem she was already going to face in the campaign: Her welcoming attitude to the refugees won her new admirers among German center-left supporters but alienated her from some in the conservative wing of her own Christian Democrats (CDU) and the allied Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU).
“We owe it to the victims, those who were affected [by the attack] and the entire population that we should now think over and adjust our entire migration and security policy,” said Bavarian state premier and CSU leader Horst Seehofer on Tuesday morning, adding that he would discuss with the Bavarian state government the “possible implications and suggestions for [Merkel’s] federal government.”
So far, Seehofer’s repeated criticism of Merkel’s refugee policy have failed to make a lasting dent in her popularity. Now in her third term, her personal approval ratings are close to 60 percent despite waves of outrage to refugee-related events such the mass sexual assaults on women in Cologne on New Year’s Eve 2015, or the rape and murder of a college student in Freiburg in October, for which an Afghan asylum seeker was arrested.
Demonstrating her refusal to adopt the tone and language of the AfD to neutralize them as a political threat, Merkel told German TV earlier this month that if the Freiburg attacker turns out to be an Afghan refugee, he should be condemned “just like with any other murderer … But that shouldn’t be combined with a rejection of an entire group.”
Tackling the same issue head-on at her first statement in response to Monday’s atrocity, the chancellor — dressed in black — said: “We must assume at the current time that it was a terrorist attack.” She added: “I know that it would be particularly difficult for all of us to bear if it is confirmed that this deed was carried out by a person who sought protection and asylum in Germany.”
Sure enough, shortly afterwards German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière said the man arrested on suspicion of carrying out Monday’s attack was a 23-year-old Pakistani who had applied for asylum in Germany. In a detail that could potentially be embarrassing for German authorities, the minister said immigration authorities had not been able to question the man about his asylum request because there was nobody who could provide interpretation into German from the man’s language, Balochi.
A few hours later, after media reports that German police believed they may have arrested the wrong man, federal prosecutor Peter Frank said police didn’t know for sure whether the man in police custody really was responsible, and that investigators should “get used to the idea that the suspect possibly isn’t the criminal or doesn’t belong to the criminal group.” Later in the day, authorities said the Pakistani man had been released.
Such confusion is likely to increase the pressure on Merkel to toughen up security measures. A taste of things to come came from the interior minister for the state of Saarland, the CDU’s Klaus Bouillon, who said in a radio interview that Berlin was in a state of war “even though some people, who always only want to see the good, don’t want to see this.” From now on, he said, police should use “heavy artillery” if necessary.
Hortense Goulard contributed reporting.
Germany's Nightmare, Merkel's Nightmare
The attack on Berlin has the potential for shaking up German politics. Angela Merkel said what she needed to say, but her task of reuniting the country ahead of next fall's general election just became more difficult.
By Severin Weiland and Philipp Wittrock
December 20, 2016 07:13 PM
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is in crisis mode. Again. But this time, it hurts worse than before and has shaken the entire country. The attacks over the summer in Würzburg and Ansbach were merely harbingers of Monday night's bloodbath. Now, 12 people are dead and dozens more wounded after an attacker drove a semi-truck into a Christmas market in the heart of Berlin.
Merkel was fully aware that something like Monday's night's attack could happen here too -- indeed, that it was almost inevitable. But that hasn't mitigated the shock. "This is a difficult day," the chancellor said. The country, she went on, is "united in deep mourning."
When Merkel read her statement on Tuesday regarding the events of the previous evening, she said what she had to say in such a situation. She expressed her sympathy for the victims and their families, thanked the first-responders for their work, conveyed faith in the work of the investigators and announced that the perpetrators would be punished accordingly. And she promised: "We will find strength for the life we want to live in Germany -- free, united and open."
They are words that gave voice to her shock and dismay. But also to the determination to confront terror.
But even as she was making her statement, the chancellor was fully aware that the correct tone, excellent police work and the steadfastness of liberal values would not be enough to contain the crisis. That helps explain why she also conveyed a political message during her five-minute appearance.
It would, she said, be "particularly difficult for all of us to tolerate" a situation in which the perpetrator had come to Germany as a refugee." It would be, she continued, "particularly repulsive with respect to the many, many Germans who are engaged daily in providing assistance to refugees and with respect to the many people who really need our protection and who are doing their best to integrate."
As she was speaking, it wasn't yet known that police had begun doubting whether the man they had arrested on Monday night was actually involved in the attack. The man, who apparently came to Germany as a refugee from Pakistan roughly one year ago, had been arrested not far from the site of the attack. Investigators had hoped that they had captured the driver of the truck.
Merkel's message was an entreaty to Germans to avoid casting an eye of blanket suspicion on all refugees in the country. She is well aware of the deep divides in German society and she is concerned that this attack might poison the atmosphere even further, a development which could make it all the more difficult for her to win re-election in fall 2017.
And her message was also aimed at those fellow conservative politicians who have always been critical of her refugee policies. First and foremost Horst Seehofer, the combative governor of Bavaria who also leads the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party to Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU). Even before Merkel delivered her statement in Berlin, the Bavarian cabinet met in Munich. Seehofer, it was clear, had been deeply affected by the attack in the German capital and dark rings circled his eyes.
Fight on the Right
What Seehofer then said into the journalists' cameras sounded like yet another declaration of war against Merkel. "We owe it to the victims, their families and the entire populace to rethink and readjust our entire immigration and security policies." When Seehofer says "our policies," he really means those of the chancellor.
Seehofer has been fighting for months against Merkel's political course in the refugee crisis. He isn't just concerned about holding onto power in Bavaria, he is also worried about growing political competition on the right wing in the form of the populist Alternative for Germany (AfD). Overnight, the AfD sought to gain momentum from the attack by directly blaming Merkel's policies for making it possible in the first place and with derisive comments in social networks.
Recently, the CDU and the CSU had been trying to patch up their relationship. A joint meeting of party leaders is currently scheduled for the beginning of February at which the Bavarian sister party is slated to announce its official support for Merkel's new candidacy for the Chancellery. But the attack could thwart these plans if Seehofer decides that recent reforms to tighten the country's asylum laws don't go far enough.
But even members of Merkel's CDU are agitated. Take Klaus Bouillon, the CDU interior minister for the state of Saarland, who first spoke of a "state of war" in describing Monday's attack and later tried to backpedal. "I will avoid using the term war in the future," he said, distancing himself from his own remarks. "It's terrorism."
'Not the Day for Consequences'
Seehofer's immediate call for political consequences following the attack did not go over well in Berlin. Thomas de Maizière, the interior minister, provided an update on the investigation's progress on Tuesday and the CDU politician appeared to be choosing his words very carefully while doing so. "Let's not retreat," de Maizìere said in an appeal to the populace. "Don't let them control our lives with fear."
When asked for his response to Seehofer's demand, the interior minister grew taciturn. He pointed out that he would be visiting the scene of the attack later in the day together with the chancellor and the foreign minister and that he would be attending a worship service afterward. "Today," he said, "is not the day to be talking about consequences."
Later in the day, de Maizière joined Merkel and her SPD colleague Frank Walter Steinmeier as they laid white roses at a make-shift memorial to the victims. As he did so, Seehofer and his government ministers in Bavaria prepared to call a special meeting of the cabinet Tuesday afternoon. The issue to be discussed: Germany's security and refugee policies.