Stars and Stripes staff and wire reports
March 3, 2011
Flags fly at half staff on RAF Lakenheath, England, on Thursday as the 48th Fighter Wing community mourned the deaths from the Frankfurt Airport shootings.
FRANKFURT, GERMANY — The suspect in a deadly attack on U.S. airmen at the Frankfurt airport has confessed to targeting members of the American military, a top security official said Thursday.
Two airmen were killed and two others seriously wounded in the Wednesday shooting, which German officials are investigating as an act of Islamic terrorism.
Hesse state Interior Minister Boris Rhein told reporters that the suspect, identified as a 21-year-old ethnic Albanian from Kosovo, acted alone, the DAPD news agency reported. According to German newspapers, the suspect Arid Uka portrayed himself as an Islamist on the Internet, the BBC reported.
He saw “himself engaged in Holy War with infidels,” according to Die Welt, while Frankfurter Allgemeine reports that there were rumors he had planned to embark on a “killing spree.”
The suspect, who is being transported to the federal supreme court in Karlsruhe, Germany, is scheduled to be brought before a German judge later Thursday, said Juergen Linker, a German police spokesman. His uncle, Rexhep Uka, told the AP that the young man worked at the Frankfurt airport and was a devout Muslim. The suspect’s grandfather was a religious leader at a mosque in a village near Mitrovica, Kosovo, Rexhep Uka said.
A cousin, Behxhet Uka, said he spoke to the suspect’s father, Murat Uka, several times by telephone from Frankfurt on Wednesday after the family was contacted by Kosovo police. The father said that all he knew was that his son did not come home from his job at the airport Wednesday.
At least three of the airmen killed or injured are from a security forces team based at RAF Lakenheath in the United Kingdom. The airmen were heading to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, en route to Afghanistan.
“It is with heavy heart that I confirm that airmen from this Wing were involved in the shooting incident,” said Col. John Quintas, commander of the 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath.
When I heard about the attacks at Frankfurt, it hit home. I've been in and out of that airport on business so many times; both in and out of uniform. I remember flying out of there as a dependent when my Dad was in the service, and later when I donned the green suit to join the long green line. I remember being corraled by the NCO's at the repple depot for my first permanent duty assignment to Cooke Barracks with the 1st Infantry Division(fwd) and later flying home for a end of tour break before going over for a second tour with 207th MI bn. Also the many trips there to pick up other soldiers, I always saw the busses there to pick up troops coming into theater. And later I flew off to war from that airport in a C5A. This really hits home for me.
To our brothers in the Big Blue: