Following a brutal attack on a German train on July 18 by an ax- and knife-wielding teenager who was an Afghan refugee, the Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attack. Four people were injured in the attack, one critically.
The attacker, identified in an ISIS video as Muhammad Riyad, reportedly shouted the Islamist slogan “Allahu akbar” (“God is great”) during the assault, which took place in the German city of Wurzburg. The ISIS-linked online Amaq news agency said Riyad was an ISIS “fighter.” The Amaq statement said:
The perpetrator of the stabbing attack in Germany was one of the fighters of the Islamic State and carried out the operation in answer to the calls to target the countries of the coalition fighting the Islamic State.
Riyad was shot dead by police after fleeing the train.
A report in Britain’s Mirror quoted transcripts from a video released by ISIS that the terrorist group claims is Riyad delivering a speech in Pashto before the camera while holding a knife.
The video’s narrator calls Riyad “a soldier of the Islamic State who carried out the Wurzburg [Germany] attack.”
The Mirror reporter said the video appears to show Riyad saying he would “slaughter infidels” with a knife, one that he holds up to the camera.
He then went on to say:
I am a soldier of the caliphate and I am going to carry out a suicide attack in Germany.
O Kufar [non-believer], the time has passed when you would come to our homeland and kill our men, our women and our children. And your apostate rulers were silent about these massacres.
That time is over now. Now the Islamic Caliphate has been established in Iraq, Al-Sham, Khorosan, Libya and Yemen and God Willing, soldiers of the caliphate will get you.
They will slaughter you in your own back yard and they will live in your houses and break your rules and take your land. We will target you in every village, every city and every airport, God Willing.
BBC News reported that German officials had found a hand-painted ISIS flag in Riyad’s room.
The report cited a statement from Joachim Herrmann, the interior minister of the state of Bavaria, who said the flag had been found among the teenager's belongings in his room in his foster home in the nearby town of Ochsenfurt, about 12 miles away from Wurzburg.
Authorities also found a text written in Pashtun, Herrmann said, and it showed a strong indication that Riyad "could be a person who had been self-radicalized.”
Herrmann said that those who had met the young man in recent months described him as calm and quiet, and they could not understand his actions.
The teenager had gone to the mosque “on special occasions,” said the interior minister, but no one had noticed any radical behavior, nor noticed any signs of a direct link to jihadist networks. But Riyad attacked nonetheless.
BBC quoted a statement from one witness who said the railroad car “looked like a slaughterhouse.”
More information about the victims of Riyad’s attack was published in a report in the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post for July 19, noting that the four people assaulted were all Hongkongers — a married couple, their daughter, and her boyfriend. The report noted that the two men, aged 62 and 31, suffered critical injuries and were under intensive care the University Hospital of Wurzburg.
The Post noted that the 62-year-old father, surnamed Yau, and Edmund Au Yeung, the boyfriend of Yau’s daughter, Tracy Yau Hiu-tung, suffered severe head, neck, abdominal, and hand wounds after they tried to protect their loved ones.
A German official told the Post that the two women caught up in the attack — Tracy Yau and her mother, Mrs. Yau — suffered “severe but not life threatening” injuries.
The Post, citing information received from officials, reported that Riyad arrived in Germany as an unaccompanied minor two years ago and had been living with a foster family south of Wurzburg for a few months. The Post report, crediting Reuters as providing additional reporting, predicted that this incident would have an impact on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s liberal immigration policies:
Analysts said the latest attack in Germany will deal a blow to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s refugee-welcoming policies. About 1.2 million refugees are estimated to be living in Germany. Latest estimates by the European commission put the number of asylum seekers in Europe by the end of 2017 at around three million.
As we noted in an article last September, Germany, which previously had taken in the lion’s share of refugees fleeing to Europe from the turmoil in Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan, had recently made a sudden change in policy and decided to restrict the flow of migrants across its borders.
Germany’s Interior Minister Thomas de Mazière announced the change in policy on September 13.
De Mazière explained that the new restrictions were partly necessary for security reasons and added: “This step has become necessary. The great readiness to help that Germany has shown in recent weeks ... must not be overstretched.”
With this attack occurring just days after Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, a Tunisian immigrant with jihadist inclinations, drove a truck into a crowd in Nice, France, on July 14, killing 84 people, it is sure to raise awareness among Europeans about the threat posed by refugees from areas of the Islamic world where terrorism is rampant.
The same cautionary warning should be heeded by Americans, as the number of Syrian refugees being processed for entry into the United States has accelerated in recent months, with the Obama administration seeking to process 10,000 such refugees by the end of the fiscal year in September.
While it is obvious that not every refugee from the Middle East or North Africa is a terrorist, it is essential to restrict the number of refugees admitted from those regions to a number that can be adequately and safely vetted.
Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), a non-profit research organization that advocates for greater restrictions on immigration, told the Wall Street Journal in a recent interview that he wasn’t confident in the vetting. “They aren’t going to admit the next 5,000 Syrians in three months unless they are rushing through the supposedly rigid security screening,” Krikorian said.