In Ansbach in Bavaria State, southern Germany, a suicide bomber blew himself up at a wine bar not far from the Ansbach Open music festival during the final concert around 22:10 on the evening of 24 July 2016. Fifteen people were injured, three gravely. The suicide-killer, who had wandered around the entranceway with a backpack, was soon identified as a twenty-seven-year-old Syrian refugee, Mohammad Daleel, who came to Germany in 2014. Daleel “lived in an old hotel that was converted into a refugee shelter”. Daleel had been rejected as an asylum seeker in Germany, where he was known to the authorities for petty criminality. Daleel was scheduled to be deported to Bulgaria within thirty days, though the deportation had been temporarily suspended while Daleel underwent a medical evaluation, and had been placed in a psychiatric clinic. Daleel had allegedly tried to commit suicide twice before the bombing.
On 25 July, Amaq claimed the Ansbach attack:
Insider source confirms to Amaq Agency that the individual who carried out the martyrdom operation in Ansbach, Germany was a soldier of the Islamic State who executed the operation in response to calls to target nations in the coalition fighting the Islamic State.
Later on 25 July, IS released first a picture of Daleel:Shortly afterward, Amaq released a video where Daleel swears his allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi: On 26 July, al-Naba—which is circulated by hand on Saturdays [23 July in this case] and then released electronically on Tuesdays—released its fortieth issue, which contained a profile of Daleel on page 8:
Daleel’s kunya was revealed to be Abu Yusuf al-Karar. Daleel was a member of al-Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen, the formation created by Ahmad al-Khalayleh (Abu Musab al-Zarqawi) in January 2006, according to al-Naba. Daleel moved back to Aleppo, evading Assad’s mukhabarat, al-Naba says, and then formed a jihadist cell at the outset of the revolution, “which specialized in throwing grenades and Molotov cocktails at the Nusayri regime’s military and security forces’ headquarters”. Daleel “then transferred between a number of armed factions, but couldn’t stay in their ranks due to the corruption of their ideology and deviant morality”.
When the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) arrived in Syria “they started to work under the name Jabhat al-Nusra”, and Daleel joined them. This likely refers to the ISI networks, under al-Nusra colours, that operated in northern Syria under the guidance of Amr al-Absi (Abu al-Atheer) and Samir al-Khlifawi (Haji Bakr). Daleel fought on the frontlines in Aleppo until he was injured in a mortar strike. By the time of the public arrival of ISI in Syria in April 2013, Daleel was “a resident in Dar al-Harb (the Abode of Unbelief)”, Europe.
It appears Daleel tried to return to Syria, “but his many attempts … to [re]join the ranks of the caliphate’s army failed, as he found the borders closed before him. So he accepted the alternative and remained in his place, waiting for what he missed—the rewards of jihad and the pleasure of living under the rule of God,” as al-Naba put it. Daleel thus followed the path set forth by Taha Falaha (Abu Muhammad al-Adnani): “If the [governments] have shut the door of hijra (migration to the caliphate) in your faces, then open the door of jihad in theirs.”
Daleel had first thought to recreate his petrol-bomb-throwing cell in Germany to attack cars and buildings. But he was unable to gather sufficient incendiary materials, and eventually turned away from the idea of primitive attacks of this kind. Daleel began his new project with “great vigour, great patience, and great effort”, al-Naba reports. Having come under suspicion, German police “entered the place where [Daleel] was making his bomb … [but] God blinded them from seeing the bomb that had been hidden moments before”. It “took [Daleel] three months to complete the bomb”, and during that whole period Daleel “was in constant contact one of the soldiers of the caliphate, who reminded him of God and encouraged him,” al-Naba says.
The fact that Amaq has a video of Daleel is proof in itself against the “lone wolf” thesis in this case; clearly Daleel had contact with the Islamic State before his attack. By al-Naba’s account, however, this is more than a “guided” or “endorsed” attack. Daleel is something closer to a long-term secret agent—in other words, a wholly controlled operative of the Islamic State.
The Long War Journal has published transcripts of conversations Daleel was having with his handler from Amn al-Kharji, IS foreign intelligence, in the run-up to his attack:
“This area will be full of people,” Daleel wrote as he sent a photo of the venue where the music festival was to be held.
“Kill them all in a wide open space,” the Islamic State’s man replied, “where they will lie on the ground.”
The unnamed operative told Daleel to look for an appropriate place to put his bomb and then try to “disappear into the crowd.” The jihadist egged Daleel on, saying the asylum-seeker should “break through police cordons,” run away and “do it.”
“Pray for me,” Daleel wrote at one point. “You do not know what is happening with me right now,” Daleel typed, in an apparent moment of doubt.
“Forget the festival and go over to the restaurant,” the handler responded. “Hey man, what is going on with you? Even if just two people were killed, I would do it. Trust in Allah and walk straight up to the restaurant.”
It appears that Daleel may not have intended to detonate his explosives at that time. Der Spiegel previously reported that he intended to remotely detonate his backpack bomb, but it went off accidentally. Daleel may have also been planning additional attacks.