Dispatch: U.S. Airmen Shot in Germany
Vice President of Tactical Intelligence Scott Stewart explains why attacks similar to the March 2 shooting at the Frankfurt airport are likely to occur in the future.
Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.
Here at STRATFOR, we're looking at the March 2nd shooting at the Frankfurt airport which claimed the lives of two U.S. airmen and wounded two others.
The assailant in this case was a 21-year-old ethnic Albanian from Kosovo by the name of Arif (or Arid) Uka. Uka has been living in Germany for many years, and it appears that he was radicalized in Germany and not his native Kosovo. Uka worked at the airport in Frankfurt, and it appears he used his access to that facility in order to conduct the surveillance he required to conduct this attack.
Uka has told the German authorities that the attack was something that he had planned and executed alone, and certainly from the M.O. of the attack, it is consistent with what we would expect to see from a lone-wolf attacker. This attack is very similar to lone-wolf shootings that we've seen in the past, such as the July 2002 attack at the El Al ticket counter at Los Angeles International Airport. It is also very similar to shootings we saw in 2009 at an Army recruiting office in Little Rock, Ark., as well as the shootings on Fort Hood. Uka used his position at the airport to find a time when the airmen were vulnerable in transit. He selected a spot that was outside of the security cordon of the Frankfurt airport, and it was also before the airmen would have reached Ramstein Air Force Base, which would have been a more secure environment.
We've seen ethnic Albanians involved in other radical activity. Indeed, we saw a group of Albanians plotting to attack Fort Dix in the United States a couple years ago. However, by and large ethnic Albanians tend to be moderate and more tolerant than some of the Wahhabi/Salafi Muslims in other parts of the world. It's not surprising that a Kosovar outside of his homeland, specifically in Germany, would be radicalized. We have seen other Muslims, such as the Hamburg cell that went on to conduct the 9/11 attacks, radicalized during their stays in Germany.
We've been anticipating more of these sorts of simple attacks using readily available weapons like what we saw in Frankfurt yesterday. We believe that the endorsement of figures such as al-Wahishi of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and Adam Gadahn will tend to lead more grassroots jihadis to conduct these types of attacks — attacks that are simple, straightforward and hard for them to mess up in the planning and execution.