Frankfurt shooter radicalized long before attack

AP News
Posted: Sep 14, 2011 9:32 AM
Frankfurt shooter radicalized long before attack

A man on trial for killing two U.S. airmen at Frankfurt Airport harbored anti-American feelings and spoke of violence about a year before the attacks, according to evidence presented at his trial Wednesday.

Arid Uka is charged with two counts of murder for the March 2 slayings of Senior Airman Nicholas J. Alden, 25, from South Carolina, and Airman 1st Class Zachary R. Cuddeback, 21, from Virginia.

The 21-year-old Kosovo Albanian also faces three counts of attempted murder for wounding two more airmen and taking aim at a third before his gun jammed.

He confessed to the attacks as his trial opened in August, saying that the night before the crime he had seen a video posted on Facebook that purported to show American soldiers raping a teenage Muslim girl. It turned out to be a scene from the 2007 anti-war Brian De Palma film "Redacted," taken out of context.

Uka has told the court that the video prompted him to try and do anything possible to prevent more American soldiers from going to Afghanistan. But prosecutors are trying to show that Uka had long held radical feelings.

Prosecutors have said there is no evidence that Uka was linked to any terrorist organization, and the case highlights what many authorities have said is an increasing danger of the so-called "lone wolf" type attacker.

Such terrorists self-radicalize and often don't come on the radar of authorities until they carry out their attacks, making them hard to stop. President Barack Obama said in a CNN interview on Aug. 16 that a "lone wolf" terror attack in the U.S. is more likely than a major coordinated effort like the Sept. 11 attacks.

In around a dozen pages of Internet chats collected by investigators, Uka talked at times about violence and criticized American patriotism. The postings took place on such as Facebook and the online game World of Warcraft.

On April 13, 2010, for example, Uka talked to fellow gamers about having "the Quran in the right hand and an AK-47 in the left," according to one chat read aloud by Judge Christoph Koller.

In another message from October, he criticized U.S. reaction to the Sept. 11 attacks, saying "they have killed more people than any terrorist organization."

Uka, dressed in jeans and a button-down shirt did not react as the details were read Wednesday. He seemed relaxed during the proceedings, laughing afterward as he talked with his attorneys.

Attorney Marcus Steffel, who represents Cuddeback's mother _ who has joined the trial as co-plaintiff as is allowed under German law _ said it is too early to say how important the chats could be in the trial.

"These are pieces of a mosaic," he told The Associated Press. "We'll only be able to evaluate it later."

The trial is scheduled to continue Oct. 5.

Uka faces a life sentence if convicted, although cooperating with authorities and a confession could help reduce the amount of time he would have to serve before parole could be considered.