On April 4, 2011, Amri landed on Lampedusa. A day later he registered with the police. In the photo, we see a smiling young man looking optimistically into the camera, ready for a new life. But it started with a lie.

Amri had heard that minors were more likely to get a residence permit. So he gave the police a false date of birth, claiming that he was only 16 years old. From Lampedusa he travelled to Sicily with six other Tunisians. He stayed in a Catholic dormitory for young people, located in Belpasso, at the foot of Mount Etna. Amri was one of the first migrants to be placed there.

The rules in the dorm were strict. The Tunisians had to get up at eight in the morning and be home at eight o'clock in the evening. Eleven pm was lights out. Amri spoke little, according to the head of the institution at the time. During the day, Amri worked at a tire shop in the village. In the evenings, he played Playstation, and sometimes he prayed.

On the weekends, however, Amri and the others smoked and drank, even though alcohol and cigarettes are prohibited in the dorm. They provoked their hosts by removing the crosses from the walls. Once Amri installed a black flag with Arabic characters -- the symbol of IS fighters -- as a desktop wallpaper on one of the dormitory's computers.

After half a year, on October 23, 2011, Amri flipped out. Drunk again, together with other Tunisians, he set a bed on fire after a fight with one of the social workers. A court sentenced him to four years imprisonment.

Pierelisa Rizzo got to know Anis Amri in 2013 in the small town of Enna. She volunteered in the prison, working on a musical with the prisoners: Rinaldo in Campo, a love story. Amri played the bongos. They had practiced for four months, Rizzo says, during which time some of the other prisoners told her about their homeland. But Amri remained closed.

He spent the detention period in six different prisons. Again and again, he attacked fellow prisoners and guards. Amri was not just a silent loner, as many interviewees describe him. He was also a fighter. During the three weeks of investigation in autumn 2011, he was involved in four dust-ups.

Amri fell apart in prison, says his lawyer. He knew that with his arrest, he had gambled away any chance of a residence permit. But he never blamed himself, the lawyer said: "It was always the others."

After his release on May 18, 2015, Amri was sent to a deportation center in the Sicilian city of Caltanissetta. The Italian state asked Tunisia to identify and accept Amri. But the Tunisian authorities didn't respond, just as they didn't respond later to inquiries from Germany. After 30 days, the Italians had to release Amri from the deportation detention, since there were no valid papers.

On June 17, 2015, Anis Amri became a free man once again. Together with a group of Tunisians, he then set off for Germany.


A European database of asylum seekers exists called Eurodac, which stores fingerprints, but no photos or biographical information. There is also the Schengen information system, in which data are stored on persons, but no fingerprints. And then there are countries like Italy that didn’t feed Amri's fingerprints into the database. And they want to get rid of problems like him as quickly as possible, no matter where to.

A dishwasher in Germany


So, Anis Amri is registered in Freiburg in the summer of 2015 as a seemingly respectable refugee, and then sent to Berlin. From there he goes to Dortmund and finally to Emmerich. There, Amri has a bed in a shared accommodation. Unlike most refugees, he quickly found a job: in a restaurant with a view of the Rhine, he started as a dish washer. Another refugee who lived with him then described him as a young man with one notable quality: "Anis was always angry."

Angry at the world, at his life, at this country that sends him from one city to the next. Again, everything is the fault of others.

An indication that Amri's thoughts are already filled with hatred is his rapid immersion in the Salafist scene in North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony. He visits at least 15 mosques regularly, most of them in Dortmund. The LKA will later note that he even performed as a preacher in some of the prayer houses, something the mosque operators deny. "All Europeans are godless," he railed to a friend. A little later, he was caught stealing two Samsung Galaxy phones from his fellow roommates.

Looking back, it seems as if Amri had had an imaginary map of the German Islamist scene, which he followed with determination. If this map existed, Hildesheim would be circled, or more precisely, a certain mosque in Martin-Luther-Strasse. This is where one man preached, whom the security authorities take to be the chief IS ideologist in Germany, an Iraqi named Abu Walaa. He managed a large network and was then later arrested.

Amri worked in Hildesheim at a pizza delivery service as a driver, about 30 hours a month. He introduced himself to the owner as an exchange student from Egypt who wanted to earn a little money. Amri wasn't a particularly nice guy, remembers the owner, and after a few weeks he simply no longer turned up to work.

The police had placed an informer in Abu Walaas’s vicinity, who reported on Amri for the first time on November 19, 2015, writing that there is a man named Anis who wants to "do something here."

The informer is a big man, in his late thirties, with thick black hair. Since 2004, he has been working as an informant, beginning with several years in the mafia and drug milieus. Since 2011, he has been regarded by the LKA as their most reliable informer in the Salafist scene. He is a regular guest of Abu Walaa and his deputy Boban S., a chemical engineer, whom they call "the Serb." "They want to have an 'Islamic state' here too," the informer reported to the officials. "It would support the caliphate, which would mean the introduction of the Sharia law in Germany, by violent means if necessary."

The informant sometimes took Amri with him in the car. Amri boasted that he could "easily get a Kalashnikov in Napoli," said the undercover agent, who is now in a witness protection program. Amri had repeatedly spoken of "carrying out attacks." Apparently, he was often invited to personal audiences with Abu Walaa, probably to get tips "for a trip to the Islamic State." The LKA observed Amri, the  Federal Public Prosecutor General opened an investigation. He was by then fully in the state's sights.

Shortly before Christmas 2015, "the Serb," Abu Walaa's deputy, organized a violent march for his students. Amri was also present. They marched for 16 kilometers with heavy packs on their backs, "to prepare for their departure to the Islamic state," according to the informant. Amri marched through Germany as if he were a Bundeswehr soldier. But his is a different kind of military service: jihad.