Berlin security services: Highway attacker wasn’t on radar

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An investigator works on the scene, following several accidents on the city motorway A100 in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020. According to German news agency dpa, prosecutors say a series of crashes caused by a 30-year-old Iraqi man on the highway late Tuesday night was an Islamic extremist attack. (Paul Zinken/dpa via AP)

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BERLIN (AP) — German authorities said Thursday that a 30-year-old man accused of deliberately driving his car into other vehicles along a major Berlin highway wasn’t previously on the security services’ radar.

The Iraqi citizen crashed into a car, two motorcycles and a motor scooter on Tuesday night before he stopped his vehicle and eventually detained. Six people were injured, three of them severely. He has been charged with at least three counts of attempted murder and moved to a psychiatric jail.

“He was not on the radar,” a spokesman for Berlin’s senate of the interior said, the German news agency dpa reported. While intelligence services in the German capital weren’t aware of the man, he was known to police for assault and resisting officers.

Berlin prosecutors said Wednesday that the suspect, who was born in Baghdad in 1990 and came to Germany as an asylum-seeker several years ago, may have been motivated by Islamist ideology. Authorities said “a religiously motivated background cannot be excluded” as a motive for his actions, but there were also indications the man suffered from psychological problems.

A Berlin prosecutor said Thursday that the suspect had undergone a psychiatric evaluation and may suffer from “bizarre, religious delusion.”

The man has not talked to investigators yet, prosecutor Martin Steltner said.

Investigators did not reveal the man’s identity, as is customary in Germany, but local media identified him as Sarmad A.

Berlin officials said the suspect’s asylum request had been rejected in 2017, but he was not deported because Germany didn’t deport people back to Iraq due to the fragile security situation there.

Authorities said a city firefighter who was one of the three people severely injured in Tuesday’s collisions remained in intensive care Thursday.

“His condition is serious,” a fire department spokesman told dpa. “We are with him in our thoughts and hope for the best.”

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