Case Of ‘Preacher Without A Face’ Points To German Flaws Before Berlin Attack

On November 8, heavily armed German police, clad in balaclavas, raided an apartment complex in the small northern city of Hildesheim in Lower Saxony. Their target was a 32-year-old Iraqi man, known to be a key supporter of the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) and dubbed the “preacher without a face” for his video appearances draped in black robes, his face hidden from the camera.

Police arrested Ahmad Abdulaziz Abdullah A., known as Abu Walaa, alongside four other men in his ultra-conservative Salafist network. All five are currently awaiting trial, charged with terrorism offences. They are suspected of recruiting for ISIS and helping at least one family reach Syria to join the group. At least 20 German ISIS fighters currently in Syria or Iraq are believed to have ties to the network.

After Tunisian national Anis Amri plowed a 25-ton truck into a Christmas market in central Berlin on December 19, killing 12 people and injuring 48, the perpetrator’s links with Walaa’s network began to emerge.

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