German prosecutors: train attacker had an extremist motive

BERLIN (AP) — German prosecutors said Monday they now believe the suspect in a November train stabbing attack that left four injured had an extremist Islamist motive.

The attack took place on an ICE high-speed train traveling from Passau, on the Austrian border, to Hamburg on November 6. Authorities said the man attacked his victims seemingly at random and showed signs of mental illness, but initially said there was no immediate indication of a terrorist motive.

Munich prosecutors said a few weeks later that they no longer ruled out an extremist Islamist motive.

On Monday, they said investigations had produced “strong indications” that the suspect’s actions were based on support for the ideology of the Islamic State group, although there was no evidence so far that he was involved or “directed” by the group.

An expert concluded that the man could be held criminally responsible for his actions, and he was sent to jail in January. Federal prosecutors, who handle terrorism and national security cases in Germany, have now taken over the investigation.

Police said the suspect, a Syrian citizen, came to Germany in 2014 and was granted asylum in 2016. He lived in Passau.

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