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Entries in Arid Uka (2)

Wednesday
Aug312011

Frankfurt Terror Suspect Mistakenly Inspired By Hollywood

Arid Uka sits between his lawyers in the courtroom of the Higher Regional Court in Frankfurt/Main, central Germany on Aug. 31. German court requests that the faces of the defendants must be made unrecognizable. (BORIS ROESSLER/AFP/Getty Images)(FRANKFURT, Germany) -- When the man accused of murdering two U.S. airmen near a Frankfurt airport confessed to the crime in a German court Wednesday, he said the night before the rampage, he had seen a gruesome video that purportedly showed American soldiers raping a Muslim girl.

But the video was not real. Rather, it was a clip from the 2007 Brian de Palma anti-war movie Redacted, which had been taken out of context by the would-be jihadist.

"I thought what I saw in that video these people would do in Afghanistan," terror suspect Arid Uka told the court, according to media reports.

Uka said that the clip had pushed him over the edge after months of sitting at home, playing video games and watching radical Islamist videos online. But even while riding the bus on the way to the airport that March 2, Uka said he did not know if he would actually go through with his plot to attack Americans.

"On the one hand, I wanted to do something to help the women, and on the other hand, I hoped I would not see any soldiers," he said.

Minutes later, however, Uka did see American servicemen and asked one of them, 25-year-old Nicholas Alden, if his group was headed to Afghanistan, according to a prosecutor's account later reflected in the indictment against Uka. When Alden said they were, Uka pulled out a handgun and executed Alden with a shot to the head.

Prosecutors said Uka then boarded the bus and shot the driver, 21-year-old Zachary Cuddeback, in the head before turning his gun on the other airmen on the bus. After wounding two others, the handgun jammed and Uka attempted to flee. He didn't get far before the survivors of the attack chased him down and tackled him.

Uka said Wednesday he doesn't know why he did it and how he lost control over himself.

"If you ask me why I did this, I can only say... I don't understand anymore how I went that far," he said.

De Palma's film was loosely based on the true story of five U.S. soldiers who were charged for the rape and killing of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl in 2006.

The film became the center of some controversy after its release the next year, sparking online protests and a letter from House Services Committee member Rep. Duncan Hunter to the Motion Picture Association, who warned de Palma's film could inspire would-be Islamic terrorists.

"Unfortunately, Brian de Palma's new movie Redacted...portrays American service personnel in Iraq as uncontrollable misfits and criminals," Hunter said at the time, according to a report by The Washington Times. "While incidents of criminal behavior be members of our military should never be ignored, the isolated incident on which this film is based negatively portrays American service personnel and misrepresents their collective efforts in Iraq."

De Palma responded to the controversy at the time, saying the movie -- which he called, oxymoronically, a "fictional documentary" -- was an attempt to end the war in Iraq "by trying to show the reality of what this war is."

Uka is charged with two counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar042011

Frankfurt Shooting: Friends, Family Remember Slain Airmen

BORIS ROESSLER/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As details emerged Friday in the deadly assault on U.S. servicemen at an airport in Frankfurt, Germany, friends and family of the fallen spoke out about the slain airmen.

U.S. Air Force servicemen Zachary Cuddeback, 21, and Nicholas J. Alden, 25, were killed when the suspected gunman, 21-year-old Arid Uka from Kosovo, opened fire in a bus at the airport. German prosecutor Rainer Griesbaum told reporters Friday that Uka asked Alden if the troops were heading to Afghanistan while he was standing outside the bus. When he said yes, Uka allegedly pulled out a handgun and shot Alden in the head before entering the bus and shooting Cuddeback in the back of his head.

The gunman's weapon jammed after he wounded two more servicemen and, when he tried to flee, he was chased down and subdued by the other servicemen who were apparently the target of the attack, Griesbaum said. Uka reportedly shouted "Allahu Akhbar!" (God is great! in Arabic), as well as the word "Jihad!"

Cuddeback, the bus driver, had never feared for his safety in Germany, his best friend told ABC News.

"Zach enjoyed his life and he was proud to be fighting for his country," said Erin Jones, who met Cuddeback when they were 12-years-old.

Jones said the last time they spoke, on Monday, the two were planning Jones' twenty-first birthday party. "I didn't know it was going to be the last time I spoke with him or I would have told him that I loved him," Jones said.

In a statement, Cuddeback's parents called him an "Army brat" whose "love for the Air Force; cars and hockey were paramount in his life."

Cuddeback's uncle and godfather, Dan Cuddeback, told ABC News Cuddeback was one of the youngest in a long line of Cuddebacks who served the nation, from Zachary Cuddeback's great-grandfather in the Second World War to his cousin who is currently serving in the Army.

Cuddeback, from Stanardsville, Virginia, was in the 86th Vehicle Readiness Squadron at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany. There, he was "always joking about something, but ready always willing to help out and be there for whatever was needed," one fellow serviceman at Ramstein said.

Alden, who was stationed with the military police at the 48th Security Forces Squadron at the Royal Air Force base in Lakenheath, England, was heading to Afghanistan with his fellow airmen before the attack.

Though he was from Indiana, Alden, 25, lived in South Carolina, where he met his wife. The couple recently had their second child, according to a report by ABC News' Indianapolis affiliate WRTV.

"The thing that I'm going to miss the most is being able to talk to him, being able to see him. It hurts even worse because he's got two children and they won't get to fully know him and what a great person he was," Nicholas Alden's brother, Joe, told WRTV.

Gunman Confessed, Charged With Murder

Uka, the suspected gunman, was subdued after the attack and arrested. He has been charged with murder and attempted murder.

Thursday, authorities in Europe called the shooting an act of Islamic terrorism, though U.S. investigators said it is too soon to tell.

Uka, an ethnic Albanian from Kosovo who was described as a long-time resident of Germany, had been apparently radicalized over the last few weeks, Boris Rhein, Interior Minister for the German state of Hesse, said Thursday. Rhein said that while in detention, Uka confessed to the shooting. The suspect has ties to known radicals, authorities say, but they believe he acted on his own.

Though U.S. officials were hesitant to label the incident as a terror attack, a senior U.S. intelligence official told ABC News the attack was likely terror-related.

Uka is another "dot in the matrix" of a rising threat of fundamentalist terror originating in the Balkans, the official said Thursday. Another man from Uka's home town in Kosovo was among those arrested in Raleigh, North Carolina, on terrorism charges in July 2009.

President Obama made an unscheduled appearance before reporters Wednesday to say he was "saddened and...outraged by this attack" and that U.S. investigators would work with German authorities and "spare no effort" to ensure that "all of the perpetrators are brought to justice."

He added that the killings were a "stark reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices" of American service members.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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