Major news outlets rushed to cast the suspected Berlin attacker as a hopeful migrant, but new information reveals he was actually a dangerous man with a criminal history hellbent on slaughtering European “pigs.”
A day or so after Anis Amri was identified as the person suspected of driving a tractor trailer into a crowd of people at a Christmas market in Berlin, the Associated Press published a sympathetic story casting him as a “troubled” refugee in search of a “better life.” Other news outlets, including The Washington Post and The New York Times, quickly spread the story.
He was shot dead by Italian police Friday, days after he fled the scene of his alleged crime that left 12 people dead and more than 50 injured.
“Desperate and drifting, Anis Amri took the path trodden by countless other North African teenagers: an illegal boat journey to Europe in hopes of a better life,” the story begins. But as the writer continues, it’s clear there’s not much evidence to support that characterization. The only thing that’s clear he was “hopeful” to do based on following reports was slaughter infidels.
Amri fled his hometown in Tunisia in 2011 after dropping out of school, and traveled illegally to Italy by sea. He left behind his family, a town devoid of bars or leisure activities, and a four-year prison sentence he was facing for robbery and burglary convictions.
“His father and I are disabled,” his mother told the AP. “So he was forced to steal to emigrate and get … goods that young people dream of.” And his sister told the AP he’s “no angel,” though she denied the family has anything to do with terrorism.
Once in Italy, Amri was convicted of stealing a truck and burning down a migrant center, and served a four-year sentence in Italian prisons. He was transferred to new prisons six different times during his sentence, Italian authorities told the AP, because he kept trying to spark rebellions and would bully other prisoners.
When he got out, he called his family and said he couldn’t find work in Italy, so he was heading for Switzerland. That attempt didn’t work out, so he went to Germany, where he was rejected for asylum because authorities feared he might be radicalized. He was put on a list to be deported, but a bureaucratic slip-up caused him to remain at large.
“Amri’s prospects in the free world weren’t as rosy as he’d hoped,” the AP story concludes, putting no apparent blame on the man who likely ruined what prospects he had in Europe when he decided to burn down a migrant center.
The “troubled” man makes it clear what he hoped to do in Europe in video footage released by the Islamic State following the AP report, and other sympathetic reports on the attacker. “God willing, we will slaughter you like pigs,” he says in the video, made at an undisclosed location and time. He wears a black hooded wind-breaker and stands on an iron bridge scrawled with graffiti, where he pledges allegiance to ISIS and calls for attacks in Europe.
“To my brothers everywhere, fight for the sake of Allah,” he adds. “Protect our religion. Everyone can do this in their own way. People who can fight should fight, even in Europe.”
The stark contrast between the reality of Amri’s heinous deeds and his sympathetic portrayal in some media reports is summed up nicely in a tweet that goes so far as to label the initial report “fake news.”
“Troubled Berlin attack suspect sought better life,” reads the first screenshot of The Washington Post headline in the tweet. The second screenshot of a tweet reads: “Berlin attacker: My message to the crusaders who bomb Muslims everyday, in the name of God we come to slaughter you pigs.”
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