GERMAN prosecutors said today they suspected a deadly attack on US servicemen at Frankfurt airport by a gunman was motivated by Islamic extremism.
Arid Uka, 21, who worked at the mail distribution centre at the airport, cried “Allah Akbar” (“God is Greatest”) before opening fire on a military bus at the busy airport, according to eyewitnesses quoted by German media.
Two US Air Force Military Police were killed and two others were seriously injured.
The two airmen killed were named today as Senior Airman Nicholas J Alden, 25, of Williamston, South Carolina, and Airman First Class Zachary R Cuddeback, 21, of Stanardsville, Virginia, according to Fox News Channel.
Alden was assigned to the 48th Security Forces Squadron, RAF Lakenheath, UK, while Cuddeback was assigned to the 86th Vehicle Readiness Squadron, Ramstein AB, Germany.
New details about the gunman also emerged today, with Spiegel magazine reporting that he made several unsuccessful attempts to travel to Afghanistan.
His father, Murat Uka, said he was shocked by the attack and apologised for his son’s actions. “I am still in shock; I cannot believe what has happened,” he told Reuters. “I am really, really sorry about what has happened.”
The family’s home in Frankfurt was surrounded by media. The family are ethnic-Albanians originally from Kosovo, a Muslim-majority country in southeastern Europe.
Regional interior minister Boris Rhein said the gunman told interrogators that he was working alone, and not as part of an organised terrorist group.
The minister described him as a “radicalized Islamist”, Spiegel magazine said.
“In view of the circumstances, there is a suspicion that this was an act with Islamist motivation,” prosecutors said.
A US official had previously told The Wall Street Journal that early indications suggested that the shooting was a terrorist assault and not a random act of violence.
A senior military official in Washington said the suspect has “some kind of Islamic ties, but we do not know exactly what those are or how deep they are.” The official said it was too early to tell if the suspect was aligned with al-Qaeda or localised Islamic organisations in Kosovo.