The man who fatally shot two U.S. airmen at Frankfurt Airport during a personnel transfer to Afghanistan is thought to be a “radicalized Muslim” who was acting alone, a German state official said Thursday.
The gunman, Arid Uka, 21, from Kosovo, confessed to the shooting before his expected appearance Thursday in a German court, VOA reported.
Boris Rhein, interior minister of the state of Hesse, said meantime that although Uka was working at the airport, he wasn’t based in a high-security area and was previously unknown to authorities, Bloomberg reported.
“It’s the type of attack that comes out of the blue,” Rhein said at a press conference in the state capital of Wiesbaden. “We can’t see a network in the sense of a network, in the sense of a terror cell.”
The shooting occurred outside Terminal 2 at the Frankfurt airport, where the bus — scheduled to take a group of 15 airmen traveling from the Royal Air Force’s Lakenheath base in England to the U.S. Air Force’s Ramstein base in southwest Germany — had been parked.
The U.S. military has several major bases in the Frankfurt region, often used as a logistical hub for operations in Afghanistan or Iraq. Soldiers regularly use the airport to fly between Germany and the United States.
U.S. Air Force Europe spokeswoman Maj. Beverly Mock said all four victims were airmen, though she did not say where they were based.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the shootings "a terrible event," and pledged that Germany would do everything in its power to investigate the crime.
While the U.S. has drastically reduced its forces in Germany over the last decade, it still has some 50,000 troops stationed here.
Kosovo Interior Minister Bajram Rexhepi told the AP that German police had identified the suspect as Arif Uka, a Kosovar from the northern town of Mitrovica.
"We are trying to find out was this something that was organized or what was the nature of the attack," Rexhepi said.
As reported by the AP, Kosovo remained part of Serbia amid the collapse of former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, but a struggle for independence by ethnic Albanians eventually led to the Kosovo war in 1998. The bloodshed was halted in 1999 when NATO bombed Serbia. Kosovo was then initially run by a U.N. administration, but it unilaterally declared its independence from Serbia in 2008 and it is now recognized by many states, among them the U.S. and most EU nations.
Kosovo Interior Minister Bajram Rexhepi told the AP that German police had identified the suspect as Arif Uka, from the northern Kosovo town of Mitrovica.
"This is a devastating and a tragic event," Rexhepi said. "We are trying to find out was this something that was organized or what was the nature of the attack."
The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S. were planned in part in the German port city of Hamburg by an Al-Qaeda cell led by Mohammed Atta, the hijacker of the first plane to strike New York's World Trade Center. And in March 2010 a German court jailed four Islamic militants who had been planning to attack American soldiers and citizens at facilities including the U.S. Air Force's Ramstein Air Base in Germany. The men reportedly dreamed of "mounting a second September 11" for a thwarted plot to attack US soldiers and civilians in Germany.
But the German news agency DPA quoted the state interior minister at the scene of the shooting as saying there were no indications of a terrorist attack.