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The Double Life Of Arid U., The Frankfurt Airport Gunman

The Double Life Of Arid U., The Frankfurt Airport Gunman

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.


Florian Flade

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.

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