To the outside world, Arid U., the German-Kosovan man accused of this week's deadly shooting at the Frankfurt airport, was well integrated. But clues that something was amiss could be found online.
FRANKFURT - Arid U. wanted a bloodbath. He wanted to kill people he considered infidels, those whom he believed wage war against Muslims. In his eyes, these were people who deserved to die. Armed with this intent, a pistol, and a considerable quantity of ammunition, police say the 21-year-old German-Kosovan went to work on Wednesday morning at Frankfurt airport.
By the afternoon, Arid was waiting outside of Terminal 2 for his victims: American soldiers. A dozen military police officers from the U.S. Air Force, stationed at the British Lakenheath base, had just arrived from London. They were dressed in civilian clothes, wore no uniforms, and were due to travel from Frankfurt to the U.S. military base at Ramstein. From there, the men were to ship out to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Even before the group of Americans had left the terminal, Arid U. was already on the bus. As an airport employee, he easily obtained access to the vehicle. The U.S. soldiers had barely taken their seats in the bus when Arid U. opened fire, hitting at least one American in the head and another in the upper body. The busdriver was also hit.
The U.S. soldiers, caught off guard, began to flee the bus. Luckily, Arid's gun jammed suddenly and there were no further casualties. He let his weapon drop and fled back into the airport terminal, where he was overpowered and detained a short while later by the German federal police.
Two U.S. soldiers were killed, and at least two others were seriously injured. Had his weapon not jammed, police believe he would have continued the bloodbath without hesitation.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Barack Obama sharply condemned the bloody attack, and German security authorities began their investigation immediately. They are being aided by the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany (BKA) and an office of the FBI.
Internet tracks show the perpetrator as a fanatical Islamist
Investigators are trying to determine whether Arid U. was a lone perpetrator, or whether he acted as a part of a larger network. Still, officials no longer doubt that the shooting had Islamist motivations. Arid U. was an Islamist, who saw himself as a player in a holy war against infidels. Police say the clues lay in the digital traces of his Internet activity in recent months.
Arid U. was born in Germany and grew up in Frankfurt, where he graduated from high school. His family is originally from Mitrovica, Kosovo, but has been in Germany for 40 years. Though a religious family, no one ever showed signs of turning radical.
Arid's father was an Imam in Kosovo. He reports that his son did not come home from work on Wednesday, and that's all he knows. Arid's uncle in Kosovo says that he was a devout Muslim, a quiet young man who took religion seriously.
On the Internet, however, Arid U. presented himself as a defender of fundamentalist Islam, as a young man who divided the world into believers and nonbelievers, who revered radical Islamic rap musicians and preachers on YouTube. "Abu R," Arid's alias in cyberspace, posted YouTube-links to popular jihadist anthems and let his hatred of Jews and Shiites run free.
"Even if someone were to call for a jihad," wrote Arid U, "Then what? This is part and parcel of this beautiful religion. You are allowed to fight infidels when you are attacked."
He saw Islam as under attack, and believed that Germans feared the spread of the religion. "They would rather that Muslims kindly adapt to their ways and start believing in Santa Claus," Arid U. wrote in December.
Hatred of Germany and "Merkel the Infidel"
In recent years, Arid U. began to reject the country in which he was born and raised. Germany, under the leadership of "Merkel the Infidel" had fought in solidarity with Israel, on the side of the Jews, and against the natives of Kosovo." This, to him, "was like a declaration of war."
And Arid wanted to fight in that war. At home, he prepared himself for jihad on his computer. "Black Ops' is one of the war games that the 21 year-old loved to play.
"When we were younger, he was always into video games," says an old school friend. "A professional must remain well trained," was how Arid saw it now. A caption under a photo that he posted of himself read: "This is my kill face."
Arid U. sympathized with the radical Salafist scene
Investigators are anxious to determine whether Arid acted alone when he opened fire on American soldiers on Wednesday. From his Internet activity, it is clear that the German-Kosovar at least sympathized with the German Salafist scene, specifically with Pierre Vogel, Sven Lau, Abou Ibrahim Nagdi and Abdullatif. Sheikh Abdullatif is considered to be one of the most influential preachers in the Frankfurt area.
He is said to have a number of contacts in radical circles, even with militant jihadists. In the past week, regional police raided several homes in the and around Frankfurt, including Abdullatif's.
The officers seized materials and questioned the Sheikh, although they did not take him into custody. Investigators believe that Abdullatif has been recruiting young jihadist Muslims in order to send them to Afghanistan and Pakistan for terrorist training.
The ex-rapper Deso Dogg from Berlin, who converted to Islam and now calls himself "Abu Malik," was particularly influential to Arid U. "I love you for Allah!" said the German-Kosovan in response to one of the former musician's videos. Abu Malik, who preaches the "True Religion" of the Salafi missionary movement, recently released a controversial song in which he extols jihad and martyrdom.
Arid U. apparently fed off of this radical ideology, which turned this once simple video game enthusiast into someone accused of terrorism. Now the words of a Muslim commander, "May the eyes of the infidels never rest," is his favorite quotation.
Read the original article in German
With Halloween arriving, we have dug up the would-be ghosts of documented evil and bloodshed from the past.
When Hallows Eve was first introduced as a Celtic festival some 2,000 years ago, bonfires and costumes were seen as a legitimate way to ward off ghosts and evil spirits. Today of course, with science and logic being real ghostbusters, spine-chilling tales of haunted forests, abandoned asylums and deserted graveyards have rather become a way to add some mystery and suspense to our lives.
And yet there are still spooky places around the world that have something more than legend attached to them. From Spain to Uzbekistan and Australia, these locations prove that haunting lore is sometimes rooted in very real, and often terrible events.
Shahr-e Gholghola, City of Screams - Afghanistan
The ruins of Shahr-e Gholghola, the City of Screams, in Afghanistan
According to locals, ghosts from this ancient royal citadel located in the Valley of Bamyan, 150 miles northwest of Kabul, have been screaming for 800 years. You can hear them from miles away, at twilight, when they relive their massacre.
In the spring 1221, the fortress built by Buddhist Ghorids in the 6th century became the theater of the final battle between Jalal ad-Din Mingburnu, last ruler of the Khwarezmian Empire, and the Mongol Horde led by Genghis Khan. It is said that Khan's beloved grandson, Mutakhan, had been killed on his mission to sack Bamyan. To avenge him, the Mongol leader went himself and ordered to kill every living creature in the city, children included.
The ruins today bear the name of Shahr-e Gholghola, meaning City of Screams or City of Sorrows. The archeological site, rich in Afghan history, is open to the public and though its remaining walls stay quiet during the day, locals say that the night brings the echoes of fear and agony. Others claim the place comes back to life eight centuries ago, and one can hear the bustle of the city and people calling each other.
Gettysburg, Civil War battlefield - U.S.
View of the battlefields from Little Round Top, Gettysburg, PA, USA
Even ghosts non-believers agree there is something eerie about Gettysbury. The city in the state of Pennsylvania is now one of the most popular destinations in the U.S. for spirits and paranormal activities sight-seeing; and many visitors report they witness exactly what they came for: sounds of drums and gunshots, spooky encounters and camera malfunctions in one specific spot… just to name a few!
The Battle of Gettysburg, for which President Abraham Lincoln wrote his best known public address, is considered a turning point in the Civil War that led to the Union's victory. It lasted three days, from July 1st to July 3rd, 1863, but it accounts for the worst casualties of the entire conflict, with 23,000 on the Union side (3,100 men killed) and 28,000 for the Confederates (including 3,900 deaths). Thousands of soldiers were buried on the battlefield in mass graves - without proper rites, legend says - before being relocated to the National Military Park Cemetery for the Unionists.
Since then, legend has it, their restless souls wander, unaware the war has ended. You can find them everywhere, on the battlefield or in the town's preserved Inns and hotels turned into field hospitals back then.
Belchite, Civil War massacre - Spain
Old Belchite, Spain
Shy lost souls wandering and briefly appearing in front of visitors, unexplainable forces attracting some to specific places of the town, recorded noises of planes, gunshots and bombs, like forever echoes of a drama which left an open wound in Spanish history…
That wound, still unhealed, is the Spanish Civil War; and at its height in 1937, Belchite village, located in the Zaragoza Province in the northeast of Spain, represented a strategic objective of the Republican forces to take over the nearby capital city of Zaragoza.
Instead of being a simple step in their operation, it became the field of an intense battle opposing the loyalist army and that of General Francisco Franco's. Between August 24 and September 6, more than 5,000 people were killed, including half of Belchite's population. The town was left in rubble. As a way to illustrate the Republicans' violence, Franco decided to leave the old town in ruins and build a new Belchite nearby. All the survivors were relocated there, but they had to wait 15 years for it to be complete.
If nothing particular happens in new Belchite, home to around 1,500 residents, the remains of old Belchite offer their share of chilling ghost stories. Some visitors say they felt a presence, someone watching them, sudden change of temperatures and strange sounds. The ruins of the old village have been used as a film set for Terry Gilliam's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen - with the crew reporting the apparition of two women dressed in period costumes - and Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth. And in October 1986, members of the television program "Cuarta Dimensión" (the 4th dimension) spent a night in Belchite and came back with some spooky recordings of war sounds.
Gur Emir, a conquerer’s mausoleum - Uzbekistan
Gur Emir (Tomb of Timur) in Samarkand, Uzbekistan
The news echoed through the streets and bazaars of Samarkand: "The Russian expedition will open the tomb of Tamerlane the Great. It will be our curse!" It was June 1941, and a small team of Soviet researchers began excavations in the Gur-Emir mausoleum in southeastern Uzbekistan.
The aim was to prove that the remains in the tomb did in fact belong to Tamerlane — the infamous 14th-century conqueror and first ruler of the Timurid dynasty who some historians say massacred 1% of the world's population in 1360.
Still, on June 20, despite protests from local residents and Muslim clergy, Tamerlame's tomb was cracked open — marked with the inscription: "When I Rise From the Dead, The World Shall Tremble."
Only two days later, Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union, with the people of Samarkand linking it to the disturbing of Tamerlane's peace. Amid local protests, the excavation was immediately wrapped up and the remains of the Turkish/Mongol conqueror were sent to Moscow. The turning point in the war came with the victory in the Battle of Stalingrad — only a month after a superstitious Stalin ordered the return of Tamerlane's remains to Samarkand where the former emperor was re-buried with full honors.
Gamla Stan, a royal massacre - Sweden
The red house of Gamla Stan, Stockholm, Sweden
After Danish King Kristian II successfully invaded Sweden and was anointed King in November 1520, the new ruler called Swedish leaders to join for festivities at the royal palace in Stockholm. At dusk, after three days of wine, beer and spectacles, Danish soldiers carrying lanterns and torches entered the great hall and imprisoned the gathered nobles who were considered potential opponents of the Danish king. In the days that followed, 92 people were swiftly sentenced to death, and either hanged or beheaded on Stortorget, the main square in Gamla Stan (Old Town).
Until this day, the Stockholm Bloodbath is considered one of the most brutal events in Scandinavian history, and some people have reported visions of blood flowing across the cobblestoned square in early November. A little over a century later, a red house on the square was rebuilt as a monument for the executed — fitted with 92 white stones for each slain man. Legend has it that should one of the stones be removed, the ghost of the represented will rise from the dead and haunt the streets of Stockholm for all eternity.
Port Arthur, gruesome prison - Australia
Port Arthur Prison Settlement, Tasmania, Australia
During its 47-year history as a penal settlement, Port Arthur in southern Tasmania earned a reputation as one of the most notorious prisons in the British Empire. The institution — known for a brutal slavery system and punishment of the most hardened criminals sent from the motherland— claimed the lives of more than 1,000 inmates until its closure in 1877.
Since then, documented stories have spanned the paranormal gamut: poltergeist prisoners terrorizing visitors, weeping children roaming the port and tourists running into a weeping 'lady in blue' (apparently the spirit of a woman who died in childbirth). The museum even has an 'incidence form' ready for anyone wanting to report an otherworldly event.
Poveglia Island, plague victims - Italy
Poveglia Island, Italy
Located off the coast of Venice and Lido, Poveglia sadly reunites all the classical elements of a horror movie: plagues, mass burial ground and mental institute (from the 1920's).
During the bubonic plague and other subsequent pandemics, the island served as a quarantine station for the sick and anyone showing any signs of what could be Black Death contamination. Some 160,000 victims are thought to have died there and the seven acres of land became a mass burial ground so full that it is said that human ash makes up more than 50% of Poveglia's soil.
In 1922 a retirement home for the elderly — used as a clandestine mental institution— opened on the island and with it a fair amount of rumors involving torture of patients. The hospital and consequently the whole island was closed in 1968, leaving all the dead trapped off-land.
Poveglia's terrifying past earned it the nickname of 'Island of Ghosts'. Despite being strictly off-limits to visitors, the site has been attracting paranormal activity hunters looking for the apparition of lost and angry souls. The island would be so evil that some locals say that when an evil person dies, he wakes up in Poveglia, another kind of hell.
- From Beirut To Baghdad, Syria's Spillover Is Redrawing The Middle ... ›
- Tamales To Gonorrhea: How Violence Shaped Colombian Spanish ... ›
- Destination Chernobyl? Radioactivity, Jobs And Tourism ... ›