Berlin Christmas market attacker was a ‘ladies man’

Berlin, Feb 11 (IANS) Anis Amri, the Berlin Christmas market attacker, was a “ladies man” before he became radicalised inside an Italian prison, a woman at whose house he stayed has claimed.

The 22-year-old Italian woman, named only as Jessica, spoke out for the first time about Amri in an interview with Germany’s Bild daily.

Amri killed 12 people when he drove a lorry into a packed Christmas market in Berlin in December. The Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack, and released a video of Amri pledging allegiance to its leader, the Telegraph reported.

But Jessica described Amri as “charming” and “almost childlike” when she first met him in 2011.

She spoke of her horror when recognised the man who slept on the sofa at her and her husband’s home in Rome in television reports of the attack.

Jessica’s husband, who is not named in the interview, is a Tunisian asylum-seeker like Amri.

“They’d both done a lot of bad stuff: drunk, smoked weed, hit on women,” Jessica said, adding “Anis was a rebel. He was stubborn, he didn’t talk much.”

The two became friends but Amri was jailed after he set fire to a refugee accommodation. After his release, he asked if he could stay with Jessica and her husband. He arrived later in 2015 with a prayer rug and a robe.

“He was suddenly quite different. Much quieter,” Jessica said. “He prayed at least five times a day. I think he was radicalised in prison. He didn’t smoke any more. If a beer was on the table, he wouldn’t even sit down.”

He spoke only rarely about the, and was critical of the group.

“He said IS has nothing to do with the Quran. But I saw some of his friends on Facebook had IS flags on their profiles. And he talked about attacking Israel with a nuclear bomb.”

After a few weeks he left for Germany, saying he had found a job there. It was the last Jessica saw of him, the Telegraph reported.

A few days later Amri, on the run across Europe, was killed in a shoot-out with Italian police in Milan.

The next day officers came to Jessica’s house and questioned her about Amri.

“They wanted to find out if he’d tried to come to us. Of course not,” she said. “We have nothing to do with it. We’re scared of the Islamists. “

Her husband is currently serving a jail sentence for drug trafficking.

–IANS

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