An 18-year-old nephew of Berlin truck terrorist Anis Amri has been arrested in Tunisia, amid claims he is part of a terror cell and planned to travel to Europe.
Police swooped to arrest the teenager, named as Fedi, and two other jihadist suspects.
A statement from Tunisia’s interior ministry said the three were members of a ‘terrorist cell… connected to the terrorist Anis Amri who carried out the terrorist attack in Berlin’.
The ministry said Amri had sent Fedi money to join him in Europe.
It is unclear whether the suspects helped Amri flee Berlin.
The interior ministry said Amri had sent money to his nephew and encouraged him to pledge allegiance to ISIS.
‘One of the members of the cell is the son of the sister of the terrorist (Amri) and during the investigation he admitted that he was in contact with his uncle through (the messaging service) Telegram,’ it said.
Amri allegedly urged his nephew to adopt jihadist ‘takfiri’ ideology and ‘asked him to pledge allegiance to Daesh (IS),’ it said.
He told police that Amri, using an alias, sent his nephew money through the post office to join him in Germany to help him and join the terrorist network he headed.
The Tunisian prosecutor’s office has ordered all three men held in pre-trial detention pending further investigation.
Family members including Amri’s mother (second left) and father Mustapha (right) watch coverage of the terrorist’s death in Milan yesterday
Hamida Amri, the sister of 24-year-old Anis Amri, holds his portrait aloft after being told of his death in Milan (left), and brother Abdel Kader Amri (right) holds his head in his hands
Family members of massacre victim Fabrizia di Lorenzo, who died on Monday after a truck ploughed into crowds of shoppers in Berlin, greet flight personnel who transported her body back to Rome today
‘I AM GLAD KILLER’S NO LONGER A THREAT’ SAYS VICTIM’S HUSBAND
Nada Cizmar, a 34-year-old mother of one, died in Monday’s terror attack
The husband of a Czech mother killed in the Christmas market attack says he is relieved that the attacker, Anis Amri, no longer poses a threat to the people in Europe.
Petr Cizmar, whose wife Nada died in the atrocity, said he was not after revenge, but added: ‘I needed to know that he was removed from our society one way or another and could not cause further harm.’
He spoke to The Associated Press by phone from the family’s home in Braunschweig, a city 230 kilometers (143 miles) west of Berlin.
Cizmar says his 34-year-old wife had a logistics job in Berlin since May and stayed there during the week.
He said she went to the market, located near her office, to celebrate Christmas with her colleagues.
The couple has a five-year-old son.
The nephew also told investigators that Amri ‘sent him money through the post… so that he could join him in Germany,’ the statement added.
The ministry claimed the arrested man said his uncle was the ‘prince’ or leader of a jihadist group based in Germany and known as the ‘Abu al-Walaa’ brigade.
The terrorist’s nephew was arrested in Amri’s hometown of Oueslatia, while the others were arrested in Tunis.
Parents: Nour El Houda Hassani and Mustapha Amri outside their home after being told of their son’s death
Spanish authorities are also investigating links between Amri and another suspected extremist, it emerged today.
Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido told Spanish radio station Cope that investigators are looking into a tip passed on by German authorities that Amri had developed a contact in Spain.
Zoido said: ‘We are studying all possible connections (between Amri) and our country, above all with one specific person.’
The arrests happened hours after the mother of 24-year-old Amri – who was yesterday shot to death by police in Milan – said the world will never know why he carried out the mass killing.
Nour El Houda Hassani, speaking at Amri’s hometown of Oueslatia in Tunisia said that a ‘great secret’ had died with him.
Family members have questioned the need to kill the terrorist.
His mother said: ‘Within him is a great secret. They killed him, and buried the secret with him.’
And she called on authorities to unearth who had put her son up to the attack, stating: ‘I want the truth about my son. Who was behind him?’
Twelve people were killed when Amri drove a truck into the middle of a crowded Christmas market in the heart of Berlin on Monday
Amri was named as a suspect after his wallet was discovered inside the lorry which mowed down shoppers at the Christmas market
Amri’s brother Abdel Kader wept as he questioned the need to kill him.
He said: ‘My brother is dead. Bring us his remains, even one of his fingers, and I will put it in my pocket. They killed him when he was still only a suspect. Why?’
Yesterday family members spoke of their shock over Amri’s death, and his radicalisation.
Abdul Kader said his sibling died ‘the day he swore allegiance to Daesh’ – a derogatory name for ISIS.
Speaking after news of the 24-year-old’s death reached his family in Tunisia, Abdul said: ‘He did not call us when they published his picture – that’s what convinced us that he was the one who carried out this terrorist attack.
‘We are sorry for the death of Anis, but he did not die today, he died the day after he swore allegiance to Daesh.
‘I know he had a criminal record but I didn’t think that he would ever become a terrorist.’
Brother Abdel Kader Amri (left), and mother Nour-Houda (second right) react to news of the killing today after terrorist Anis Amri was shot to death by police in Milan
SECURITY STEPPED UP IN ITALY AFTER TRUCK TERRORIST KILLED
Security has been set up in Italy as investigators try to determine whether Amri had accomplices in the country, where he was gunned down yesterday.
Security and new anti-terrorism measures were ramped up at the Colosseum in Rome today
Authorities in Rome banned vans or trucks from entering the city centre, and anti-terror police wearing masks and wielding machine guns set up roadblocks on routes leading to famous tourist sites or areas where crowds traditionally gather.
At the Vatican, where Pope Francis is due to celebrate Christmas Eve Mass in St Peter’s basilica on Saturday evening, police cars and military jeeps stood about every 100 metres along streets leading to the Vatican.
Security was also stepped up in central Milan and other Italian cities, particularly near major churches where the faithful were attending Christmas services.
Abdul Kader expressed regret at the loss of ‘innocent family members’ due to his brother’s actions.
Twelve people were killed when a truck driven by Amri ploughed into a crowded Christmas market on Monday evening.
He was known to counter-terrorism agencies in Italy and Germany, and authorities face tough questions into how officials lost track of him.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has confirmed there will be a probe into failings.
Mustapha Amri, the father of Anis Amri, leaves his home after the death of her son in Oueslatia, central Tunisia
Brother of the Berlin Christmas market truck attack suspect Anis Amri, shows a picture of Anis Amri (centre), in Oueslatia, Tunisia
Nour El Houda Hassani, the mother of Anis Amri, reacts after the death of her son in Oueslatia, central Tunisia
Amri was shot dead after firing at police during a routine approach in Milan in the early hours of this morning
Family members held a portrait of Amri, but his brother Abdul Kader Amri said he died ‘the day he swore allegiance to Daesh’