Terrorism fears stalked Europe again Tuesday morning after a man was killed and three more were injured in a pre-dawn knife attack at a rural German train station—by a barefoot man who officials initially believed had “an apparent Islamist motive.”
However, although the man reportedly uttered “Allahu akbar” as he launched his bloody attack, it was later established that the 27-year old perpetrator had drug and psychiatric issues, and a spokesman for Bavaria state's interior ministry said that “so far we have no evidence for an Islamist motive.”
“We have found the man had psychological and drug problems,” Oliver Platzer told AFP.
The Telegraph reported that police have reportedly found traces of drugs in a container at the scene. The perpetrator was undergoing treatment for his addiction, the paper said, quoting Holger Schmidt, a terrorism expert for Germany’s ARD television.
A spokesman for the Bavarian prosecutors’ office had earlier said the suspect “made remarks at the scene of the crime that indicate a political motive,” but added, “We are still determining what the exact remarks were.”
The attacker was barefoot, according to the Telegraph, and bloody footprints could be seen in pictures from the scene.
The vicious attack took place shortly before 5 a.m. local time in Grafing, a rural area some 20 miles from Munich.
Sleepy Grafing station, the scene of the attack, is part of the Munich S-Bahn network of commuter trains.
“The idea that people get on the S-Bahn or deliver newspapers on a beautiful morning and then become victims of a maniac is terrible,” Angelika Obermayr, the local mayor, said. “I am most grateful to the police, doctors, paramedics and firefighters who arrived quickly on the scene.”
The dead man and those injured in the attack are believed to be men in their forties and fifties.
If, as seems likely, it emerges that the attack was the work of a disturbed individual as opposed to a terror plotter, Germany will heave a sigh of relief.
The country has so far been spared a major attack by ISIS or al Qaeda on its own soil, but it has good reason to be jumpy. Significant plots have been disrupted over the years. Two German converts to Islam and two Turks were convicted in 2010 for planning to attack American targets in Germany, including Ramstein Air Force Base. The Paris/Brussels attackers were known to have linked up with operatives in the German city of Ulm. German authorities made arrests after the Paris atrocity in November and the Brussels attacks in March, but links to the suspects were not established. On New Year’s Eve, two railway stations in Munich were temporarily evacuated after a terror alert over an alleged suicide-bomb plot by ISIS.
Last August, two German-speaking jihadis claiming to belong to the Islamic State terror group threatened Germany with attacks in an online execution video, urging their “brothers and sisters” in Germany and Austria to commit attacks against “unbelievers” at home.
Europe has been hit by numerous terror attacks over the past six months, including an attack on Paris that killed 130 and the Belgium airport bombings that killed 35. An attack on a Eurostar train was foiled by quick-thinking off-duty U.S. soldiers, one of whom, Spencer Stone, was later stabbed in Sacramento.
Initial reports that today’s knifeman was a person claiming refugee status have now been dismissed.