Berlin Christmas market attacker accomplice charged with bomb plot

State prosecutors have charged an Islamist with planning a bomb attack in Germany alongside Anis Amri. The plot to "kill as many people as possible," was foiled by police in 2016.

A 31-year-old Russian who knew Berlin Christmas market attacker Anis Amri has been charged with alleged plans to carry out a bombing, German federal prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Magomed-Ali C, whose full name was not disclosed due to German privacy laws, wanted to "kill or at least injure as many people as possible" in a terrorist attack, prosecutors said. He was arrested in August pending investigations. 

Read more: Berlin terror attack: Germany grapples with unanswered questions two years on 

The plan involved Magomed-Ali C and a French national, Clement B, who was earlier arrested in 2017 in France for plotting a terrorist attack. The two procured or produced the explosive TATP in a Berlin apartment in October 2016, prosecutors said.

Berlin attack: an overview in pictures

Police search for attacker

Police on Wednesday intensified a manhunt for the driver of a truck that plowed through a Christmas market crowd in a busy shopping district in Berlin on Monday night. The militant "Islamic State" group claimed responsibility for the assault. Berlin police chief Klaus Kandt urged people to be "particularly​ vigilant."

Berlin attack: an overview in pictures

Searching for suspects

Police initially detained a 23-year-old asylum-seeker from Pakistan in connection with the attack. Authorities released him on Tuesday, citing a lack of evidence. Berlin police admitted they may have apprehended the wrong suspect. The driver of the truck is believed to be at large. Authorities said one or more fugitives were likely armed and dangerous.

Berlin attack: an overview in pictures

City in shock

Many gathered to place candles, roses and signs near the site of the attack. Memorials to the victims arose just hours after a truck plowed into a Christmas market in the heart of the city. Police remain on high alert in Berlin - and across the rest of Germany.

Berlin attack: an overview in pictures

'This was a terrorist attack'

Condolences have been pouring in from all over the world. "A country is united in mourning," Chancellor Angela Merkel told the nation on Tuesday morning. Calling it a terrorist attack for the first time, Merkel described the incident as "cruel and beyond comprehension."

Berlin attack: an overview in pictures

Heightened police presence

Heavily armed police patrol the entrance to a Christmas market in the German city of Hamburg. The holiday markets in Germany remained open following the attack in Berlin, but with heavier police presence and tighter security measures.

Berlin attack: an overview in pictures

What happened

A truck carrying steel beams drove straight into a crowded Christmas market in a popular shopping area in Berlin late Monday evening. This image is reminiscent of a similar attack in Nice last July, in which 86 people were killed when a man drove a truck through a crowd. In response to the Berlin tragedy, France has beefed up security at its own Christmas markets.

Berlin attack: an overview in pictures

The victims

Police have confirmed 12 deaths so far - six of whom were German nationals. Another 49 people were wounded, some seriously. Rescue workers set up emergency tents on site after the attack. Many of the wounded have been able to leave the hospital.

Berlin attack: an overview in pictures

Where it happened

Breitscheidplatz, the square in front of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, is a popular tourist destination. To the northeast of Breitscheidplatz is the Berlin Bahnhof Zoo, and to the south is the famous Kurfürstendamm shopping street.

Berlin attack: an overview in pictures

Clean-up efforts

"Our investigators are working on the assumption that the truck was deliberately steered into the crowd at the Christmas market," police said on Twitter on Tuesday. The truck has meanwhile been towed and taken in for a forensic examination.

Contact with Christmas market attacker

Amri, a Tunisian national who killed 12 people in a December 19, 2016 truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market, was also allegedly in contact with the other two Islamists around this time.

However, the plans for the bombing were cancelled because the Islamists were alarmed following a police visit at one point to Magomed-Ali C. The terrorist cell later separated.

Prosecutors said Magomed-Ali C. and Clement B. were unaware of Amri's plans. Amri fled after the Christmas market attack to Italy, where he was shot and killed by police.

Trucks: New weapon of choice for terrorists

Nice - Bastille Day (July 14) 2016

A new era of terror appears to have been ushered in when a huge truck plowed through masses of people along a beachfront promenade in the French city of Nice. Some 86 people were killed and at least 300 injured in the carnage. Police said the attacker was raised in Tunisia but moved to France in 2005. He was shot dead by police at the scene of the attack.

Trucks: New weapon of choice for terrorists

Berlin - December 2016

A truck attack on a Christmas market left 12 dead and 48 injured a week before Christmas. Police said an 'Islamic State' militant hijacked the truck driven by Polish driver Lukasz Urban who tried to alter the direction of the truck, saving lives as he sat in the passenger seat. Urban was killed by the attacker who fled the scene but was shot dead four days later.

Trucks: New weapon of choice for terrorists

Stockholm - April 2017

The back end of a delivery truck was left sticking out from the corner of a department store in downtown Stockholm as police investigators examined the site; 5 people were killed and 14 injured. Police soon arrested a suspect. Appearing in court two days later his lawyer Johan Eriksson told the court that the man "admits to a terrorist crime." He claimed to be an IS supporter.

Trucks: New weapon of choice for terrorists

London Bridge attack - June 2017

London endured a trio of truck attacks in 2017 that have left 18 dead and 100 injured. The deadliest attack occured June 3 on London Bridge and the nearby Borough Market, leaving 11 dead and 50 injured. The other vehicle attacks occurred March 22 and June 19; the former left six dead and at least 40 injured, while the latter left one person dead and 10 injured.

Trucks: New weapon of choice for terrorists

Charlottesville, VA - August 2017

In a bizarre twist a white supremacist took a page from Islamist militants and turned his vehicle into a weapon, plowing into a crowd of people at an anti-fascism rally, which left one person dead and at least 19 injured. Police charged a 20-year-old man with second-degree murder. He was photographed at the rally with Vanguard America, a white supremacist group.

Trucks: New weapon of choice for terrorists

Barcelona - August 2017

A van was used to run down pedestrians on the city's Las Ramblas street; 17 people were killed and at least 100 injured. Several hours later, 75 miles down the coast, a car slammed into a group of people in the town of Cambrils, killing one and injuring five. There were five people in the attack vehicle and police killed all of them. Police confirmed that the two attacks were connected.

Trucks: New weapon of choice for terrorists

New York - October 2017

It didn't take long for the suspect to wreak havoc Tuesday in lower Manhattan; eight people were killed and 11 seriously injured. After his truck came to a crashing halt the suspect jumped out with a pellet gun and a paintball gun and shouted "God is great." The 29-year-old suspect was shot by police and taken into custody.

The charges against Magomed-Ali C come as a parliamentary probe is examining shortcomings in the investigation of the Berlin attack.

The interior ministry has come under fire for the hasty deportation of Tunisian Bilel Ben Ammar, who had dinner with Amri the night before the Christmas market attack and may have been in Nice around the time of the July 14, 2016 truck ramming in the French city that killed 86 people.

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cw/rt (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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