Last week was, indeed, a challenging one in Germany, as the wave of terrorism currently sweeping across the globe ‘briefly’ took its toll on Europe’s biggest economy. Just within the week, two terrorism and terrorism-related incidents shook the country. For us in Bonn and other parts of the country, it was relative calmness.
It all started Monday night when a truck driver of Syrian descent in his early 30s, hijacked an articulated lorry and rammed it into cars stopped at a traffic light in the city of Limburg. No one was killed, but about nine persons were confirmed injured.
According to report, the man, identified as an asylum seeker, arrived Germany in 2015 during the massive migrant influx.
And going to its data base, German authorities instantly revealed his nationality, status, when and how he entered the county. I hope we learn(t) something here!
And barely 48 hours after the horrendous act, another one-man killer squad hit the city of Halle in the eastern flank, mauling two people in quick succession. It was targeted at the Synagogue on a day the Jewish community was holding its Yom Kimpurr.
In a staccato-like manner, the gangster, later identified as Stephan B. sporadically fired at the kebab(burger) shop and the synagogue, throwing the entire environment into confusion.
And when the dust settled, one woman and a man were killed in the shooting spree. While the woman was shot near the synagogue, the man was gunned down in the shop-just some 600 meters apart.
At an extensive meeting with a team of German investigators Thursday, report says the prime suspect, Stephan B. spoke “very extensively” admitting that his prejudice against Jews and right-wing extremist beliefs motivated him to commit the attack.
“He gave an extensive confession. He confirmed far-right and anti-Semitic motives” for the attack, the spokesman said.
The suspect was also reported to have admitted same before a German Federal Court of Justice where he was arraigned on a two-count charge of murder and another seven-count charge bordering on attempted murder. The incident is being treated as a far-right terrorist attack.
It is, however, interesting to note that the defiant hoodlum, in an anti-Semitic video recording rage, boasts the holocaust “never happened” and believes that at the root of some of the world’s problems are the Jews. That is Boko Haram of sort?
The video was said to have been filmed in a first-shooter perspective, bearing some striking resemblances to a similar one by the suspect in the Christchurch attack in New Zealand last March.
This became an issue of discourse among residents who are increasingly getting wary of this heinous act. This is more so when viewed against pockets of similar violence in the past, particularly the dastardly act of 2016 on Christmas eve when a truck crashed into the market, killing nine people in the process.
Similarly, in April 2018, two people were killed and about 20 others injured in Münster, western Germany. The tragic incident occurred, after the driver (identified as German) of a small truck crashed into a group of people in the heart of the old city. Again, the man was said to have killed himself immediately after the crash.
It is, however, reassuring that despite the attack, Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier inspired confidence not only in the Jewish community in Germany, but also the entire Germans by separately attending vigils at the Berlin synagogue and the Halle chapter respectively.
They were united in their condemnation of the act, saying there is no place for hate in their country. According to them, they have a responsibility to protect the Jewish community just like any other group.
Dateline of attacks on EU nations
Attacks of this nature are fast becoming a fad in Europe. In 2014 for instance, a man drove a van into Christmas market in the French city of Nantes, leaving 10 shoppers injured.
The offender was reported to have stabbed himself thus making the officials believe he was not mentally stable.
And on the preceding Sunday of same year, another driver reported to have shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ rammed his vehicle into pedestrians in Djon, injuring 13 people. He was also said to have history of mental imbalance. Similarly, just a day before –Saturday- the police in Tours, gunned down a man who was said to have chanted same after attacking them. In all, three attacks in France in 2014.
Also, the triple coordinated March 2016 suicide bombing attacks in Brussels, Belgium can’t be forgotten in a hurry. Two of the bombings occurred at Brussels airport, and the other at Maalbeek train station. The incident left 32 civilians dead and three perpetrators killed, with over 300 people injured. The Islamic State of Iraq and Levant were fingered. The bombings were the deadliest act of terrorism in Belgium’s history, so much that government had to declare a three-day national mourning.
And just as recent as June this year, a man, simply identified as MG, tried launching a “terrorist” attack on the the United States of American Embassy in Belgium. And following a tip-off, the man was arrested by the police.
For the record, Brussels hosts the headquarters of the European Union as well as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military alliance comprising some 29 North American and European countries.
It is believed that the country, consciously or otherwise, also plays or played host to several extremists involved in other attacks around the world. These two combined to explain why Brussels has remained an object of attack.
Well, I think this just goes to tell us that the various security challenges around the world are not limited to Nigeria, and, indeed, the entire Africa. While Germany battles anti-Semitism and the likes, we are also faced with our own Boko Haram challenge. While the EU and NATO will show some level of concerns for Africa, it will be foolhardy to assume and think they would abdicate the responsibility of ensuring peace at their various homes and focus on situation elsewhere. We can be sure that other than any other thing, economic factor will always play a prominent role in deciding where they go and what to do.
Without denigrating human lives as insignificant, the reactions by Merkel and other leaders in Europe is one lesson our country must factor in. Their reactions and response inspired confidence in people. We must act fast to ensure the ceaseless killings are quickly nipped in the bud and the dead treated with dignity.
Outgoing European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the EU must work together as bloc to address anti-Semitism, stressing that the rise in anti-Semitic attacks “must be a call to action for all Europeans.”
The rapidity of the attacks (real or imagined), without being told, is increasingly bogging down our benefactors. Let’s be thinking out of the box and raise the bar of good governance which I believe is the first major step towards solving our security challenges. That, in my view, is the surest home-grown solution to Boko Haram and all manner of security challenges we all are facing as a continent.
By doing that, it is my candid view the Boko Haram saga, and the myriad of related security brouhaha will certainly be reduced to the barest minimum. Am I right?
The fate of Kurds in northern Syria, Iraq and lower parts of Turkey is one lesson African leaders must not hesitate to learn. Just last week, Turkey moved against them and America backed out.This could also be our lot! I pray not.