A group including a Turkish man neutralize Hamburg knife attacker


Ömer Ünlü, a German national with Turkish background, was among the group who intervened with chairs and bats against the Hamburg knife attacker.

While Germany is still recovering from the Friday's shocking knife attack that left one person dead and seven others injured in Hamburg, a detail regarding the group that neutralized the man disappointed those who wanted to link the incident to their anti-migrant and anti-Islam causes.

Ömer Ünlü, a German national with Turkish background, was among the group who intervened with chairs and bats against the attacker armed with a knife.

The group managed to neutralize the attacker and handed him over to the police.

35-year-old Ünlü said that he was driving home with his wife and two children when the attack took place. "I thought a bicycle hit the car from the back. But when I looked from the rearview mirror, I saw an assailant stabbing a girl with a bicycle. I got out of the car and started chasing the assailant among others," Ünlü told Turkish daily Hürriyet.

"He stabbed a woman, it was horrifying. Help was needed right at that moment. Besides, he was yelling Allahu Akbar. These are enemies of Islam, they weaken Islam. They mercilessly stab innocent people by mentioning Allah's name. How could that be possible? I was very angry, got out and started chasing him. We, the Muslims, have much more to do in such cases," Ünlü said.

In the video, Ünlü is seen wearing a white and dark blue striped t-shirt.

According to German daily Bild, another Turkish man, Mücahid Güler, was among the group and filmed the whole incident.

Meanwhile, German officials stated Saturday that the attacker was known by the security forces with his political leaning and psychological problems but his motives remain unclear. The statement and the profile of the attacker obtained by the press also raised questions regarding the effectivity of measures taken by the German authorities.

The suspect, a 26-year-old with Palestinian background who had no identity papers other than a birth certificate showing he was born in the United Arab Emirates, was quickly overwhelmed by passers-by and arrested after Friday's attack at a supermarket in Hamburg's Barmbek district.

He was not named by authorities in keeping with Germany privacy laws.

The suspect arrived in Germany in March 2015 after stops in Spain, Sweden and Norway. His asylum request was rejected late last year and authorities were trying to secure new Palestinian papers to deport him — a process in which they said he had cooperated.

The port city's interior minister Andy Grote said that the suspect suffered from "psychological instability" while noting "there are indications of radicalization." The man's motive remained unclear Saturday but he is believed to have acted alone and there are no indications he had links to any network, Grote added.

The Palestinian suspect is being held but has refused to speak about why he staged the attack, Nana Frombach, the spokeswoman for the local prosecutor's office said.

Germany's interior minister Thomas de Maiziere also cautioned against jumping to conclusions.

The attacker had entered the supermarket and taken a kitchen knife from the shelves.

"He ripped off the packaging and then suddenly brutally attacked a 50-year-old man who later died," said deputy police chief Kathrin Hennings.

He later wounded two more men in the supermarket before fleeing, hurting four other people along the way, before he was overpowered by courageous passers-by.

The man had brandished the bloodied knife, shouting "Allahu Akbar" ("God is Greatest") as he fled the scene, but bystanders gave chase and flung chairs to stop him.

If confirmed as a terrorist attack, it would be the first in Germany since Tunisian Anis Amri drove a truck into crowds at a Berlin Christmas market on December 19, killing 12 and injuring 48.

News website Spiegel Online named the supermarket attacker as Ahmad A., while officials said he had not appealed against Germany's decision to deny him asylum.

In fact, he had helped to obtain documents to facilitate his departure from Germany.

On the day of the attack, he had even gone to the authorities to ask if the papers had arrived. Police chief Ralf Meyer said the suspect was "almost exemplary" in this aspect.

And heavily armed police who searched a Hamburg asylum seekers' shelter where the man lived failed to find any weapons.

Friday's assault risks reopening a bitter debate over refugees two months before general elections, putting pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel over her decision to open Germany's borders in 2015 and let in more than a million asylum seekers.

Merkel expressed her sympathies to victims and their families and vowed that "the violent act must be and will be clarified".

"It makes me especially angry that the perpetrator appears to be a person who claimed protection in Germany and then turned his hate against us," said Hamburg mayor Olaf Scholz.

"What was this man doing in Germany?" the mass-circulation Bild newspaper asked.
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