Islamic State Intelligence Guided The Würzburg Train Attacker

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on July 21, 2016

muhammad-riyad-2

On 18 July 2016, in the Heidingsfeld district of Würzburg of Bavaria in southern Germany, a seventeen-year-old Afghan refugee named Riaz Khan Ahmadzai (Muhammad Riyad), armed with a hatchet and a knife, wounded five civilians, two of them seriously, on a train between Treuchtlingen to Würzburg. The four people injured on the train were from the same family from Hong Kong; Ahmadzai/Riyad then wounded another civilian seriously as he jumped from the train. Ahmadzai, who had entered Germany as an unaccompanied minor and had been living in Ochsenfurt, Bavaria, was shot dead after a chase with police. 

On 19 July, Amaq had claimed the attack and Ahmadzai’s video, speaking in Pashto and waving a knife, pledging allegiance to the Islamic State was released.

The Amaq message read:

Inside Source to Amaq Agency: Individual who carried out the axe attack in Germany was a soldier of the Islamic State who executed the operation in response to calls to target nations in the coalition fighting the Islamic State.

A screenshot from Ahmadzai’s bay’a (pledge of allegiance) video, in which he very calmly explained his intention to massacre civilians, is shown above.

A letter was discovered in Ahmadzai’s bedroom at his foster home, apparently addressed to his father, which said, “Now pray for me that I can get revenge on these non-believers, pray for me that I go to heaven.”

Despite initial claims that Ahmadzai had been driven to this attack by the death of a friend in Afghanistan and that he was “a completely blank page” politically, it is evident that this was no act of spontaneous outrage. Ahmadzai was not a “lone wolf”. Ahmadzai’s bay’a video had evidently been sent to Amaq before the attack, which means Ahmadzai was in contact with IS before the attack and the fact they released his claim to act in their name on their official channels means his attack was pre-approved by Amn al-Kharji, IS’s foreign intelligence service.

UPDATE

The Long War Journal has obtained translations of the transcripts of conversations Ahmadzai was having with his Amn al-Kharji guide:

[T]he Islamic State’s man asked: “What kind of weapons do you intend to use to kill people?”

“My knife and axe are ready for use,” Khan replied.

“Brother, would it not be better to do it with a car?” the Islamic State plotter asked … “The damage would be much greater,” he told Khan.

But Khan was impatient, saying he “cannot drive” and “learning takes time.”

“I want to enter paradise tonight,” Khan explained.

Ahmadzai arranged to send his bay’a video to his IS handler, who advised Ahmadzai to have a backup and also advised that Ahmadzai use his axe rather than a knife during the attack.

Ahmadzai was in contact with IS’s intelligence officer right up to the moment he began his terrorist attack. “Pray that I become a martyr,” Ahmadzai wrote. “I am now waiting for the train.” Shortly afterwards, Ahmadzai sent another message: “I am starting now.” The Amn al-Kharji operative responded: “Now you will attain paradise”.

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