2016 Munich knife attack

A knife attack near Munich took place on 10 May 2016 when a 27-year-old mentally disturbed man stabbed four men, one of them fatally at Grafing station in the Upper Bavarian town of Grafing, some 32 kilometres (20 mi) from Munich, southern Germany. As the knifer reportedly shouted "Allahu Akbar" while stabbing the random victims, first reactions of the German and international media as well as the general public suspected an Islamist attack. On his arrest shortly after the attack, the perpetrator proved to be a mentally disturbed, unemployed carpenter with drug problems and no known ties to Islamist organizations. In August 2017 the Landgericht München II ruled the man to not be criminally liable of the crime and committed him to a closed psychiatric ward.[1]

2016 Munich knife attack
LocationGrafing station near Munich, Bavaria, Germany
Date10 May 2016
04:50 CEST (UTC+2)
TargetCivilians, transport hub
Attack type
Stabbing attack
Perpetrators27-year-old German national

The attackEdit

The attack occurred during the morning hours of 10 May 2016 at Grafing station in the town of Grafing in the Munich Metropolitan Region.[2] A 56-year-old man was attacked by the perpetrator with a 10-centimetre-long (3.9 in) knife on board a Munich S-Bahn train; he later died in hospital. A further man was then attacked on the platform, then the knifer targeted two cyclists in front of the station, one of them a local newspaper deliveryman of 58 years who was seriously injured in the attack.[3] According to eyewitnesses and confirmed by investigators, the perpetrator shouted "Allahu Akbar" ("God is great" in Arabic) and, in German, "Infidel, you must die now" during the attack.[4] All victims were randomly chosen. The train driver and a security official were reported to have chased the man away from the station. Police officers responded at the crime scene on 5:04 a.m. and arrested a suspect only minutes later in front of the station.[5]


The attacker was described as a mentally disturbed, 27-year-old unemployed carpenter[6] with no known ties to Islamist organizations. Local media outlets dubbed him as "Paul H."[7] The perpetrator was admitted to a psychiatric hospital after the attack, reported the Bremen daily Weser-Kurier.[8]

He was arrested in the hours following the attack.[9] Though it was first reported that he had a migrant background, later reports indicated that he was from the German state of Hesse,[5][10] and "does not have a migrant background".[11]



A spokesperson at the Bavarian state criminal investigation office stated that she could not confirm that the attack was related to terrorism.[12] The police said that the attack was done with "political motive," based on "made statements".[13] Ken Heidenreich, spokesperson of the prosecutor's office, said on the morning of 10 May that an "Islamistic background" was likely.[5]

Later that day, it was reported that the perpetrator had drug and mental problems and was treated two days earlier. The assumption that the attacker was an Islamist was ruled out, but a political motive is still being considered, though the attacker appeared to be confused during the interrogation. The perpetrator was not cooperating during first interrogation, but he later admitted to committing the attack.[5] No links to terrorist networks were known.[10] The police established a special commission, consisting of 80 officers. The perpetrator's cell phone and tablet computer were found and evaluated; in addition, CCTV recordings from the train and station were investigated.[5]

Security measuresEdit

Service at the train station was temporarily closed to allow authorities to conduct their investigation.[14]

The attack caused the New York City Police Department to temporarily increase security on the New York City Subway system while investigators looked into possible connections to international militant organizations.[15][16]

Discussions made in the wake of the attack raised the possibility that bag checks at German train stations might have found the knife used in the attack and prevented it from happening, but German public opinion believes that such searches are an invasion of privacy.[17]

Mental illness discussionEdit

The attack was cited as one of a number of incidents in which mentally disturbed individuals launched violent attacks under the justification of Islamist ideas or slogans.[18][19] Other examples include Man Haron Monis, the gunman in the 2014 Sydney hostage crisis; and Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, the perpetrator of the 2014 shootings at Parliament Hill, Ottawa. According to psychologists and psychiatrists who study radicalization, jihad propaganda and calls to kill infidels can push mentally disturbed individuals to act, even in the absence of direct or personal contact with radical Islamists.[18]

Other reactionsEdit

German Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maizière condemned the attack as "cowardly and outrageous" on the day of the assault.[5]

A conspiracy theory, which began in Italy before spreading to Germany and then to the English-speaking world, purported that Paul H. was actually named Rafik Youssef and that his name had been changed as part of a cover-up. Rafik Yousef was an Islamist in Berlin who was shot dead by police in September 2015.[20]

The attack was compared to a knife attack[21] at Hanover main station earlier that year on 26 February.[22] The Italian newspaper La Repubblica compared this attack to the 2016 Wurzburg train attack,[23] as did the BBC.[24]

Journalist Nabila Ramdani expressed outrage at what she termed the "purposeful" and "grossly manipulative" media use of the phrase Allahu Akbar, which, she claims, has become, a "trigger for publicity: the perfect tool for those seeking to spread as much discord as possible".[25]


On 17 August 2017, the Landgericht München II deemed the accused not criminally liable for his actions in Grafing. His mental illness, testified to by a psychiatrist in court, was acknowledged not only by the judge, but also by the prosecution as well as the accessory prosecution of several victims. The knifer was then sentenced to stay in a closed psychiatric ward for an undetermined time.[1]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Eisenberger, Korbinian (17 August 2017). "Messerattacke von Grafing: Angreifer muss in geschlossene Psychiatrie". Süddeutsche Zeitung (in German). Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  2. ^ Weaver, Matthew (10 May 2016). "One dead and three injured in knife attack at train station near Munich". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 May 2016.
  3. ^ Acker, Michael (17 May 2016). "Ersthelfer nach Grafinger Blutbad: Ich sah dem Täter in die Augen". Münchner Merkur (in German). Retrieved 17 June 2016. "Ein Allah-Fan hat mir in den Rücken gestochen", seien die ersten Worte des schwerverletzten Zeitungsausträgers gewesen
  4. ^ Eddy, Melissa (10 May 2016). "Knife Attack Near Munich Kills One". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 May 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Grafinger Messerstecher hatte offenbar psychische Probleme" [Grafing stabber apparently had mental problems]. Die Welt (in German). 10 May 2016. Retrieved 10 May 2016.
  6. ^ Staff writers (10 May 2016). "One man dead, three more injured in 'Islamist motivated' knife attack at Munich train station". 9news. Retrieved 10 May 2016.
  7. ^ Mulholland, Rory (11 May 2016). "Munich knife attack: One dead after man shouting 'Allahu Akbar' attacks four at train station in Grafing, Germany". The Telegraph. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  8. ^ Hermann, Kristin (17 May 2016). "Messerstecher von Grafing war vor der Tat mehrere Tage in Bremen". Weser-Kurier (in German). Retrieved 18 July 2016. Nach der tödlichen Attacke wurde H. in ein psychiatrisches Krankenhaus eingewiesen - After the deadly attack H. was admitted to a psychiatric hospital -
  9. ^ Angerer, Carlo; Jamieson, Alastair (10 May 2016). "German Train Station Attack: Deadly Stabbing Spree Near Munich". NBC News. Retrieved 10 May 2016.
  10. ^ a b "Völlig unvermittelt stach der Täter auf seine Opfer ein" [Quite unexpectedly stabbed the offender on his victims a]. N24 (in German). 10 May 2016. Retrieved 10 May 2016.
  11. ^ Dearden, Lizzie (11 May 2016). "Munich knife attack: Family of German suspect say he is 'no terrorist' and detail drug and mental health problems". The Independent. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  12. ^ Dearden, Lizzie (10 May 2016). "A suspected Islamist has launched a stabbing attack in Germany". The Independent. Retrieved 10 May 2016.
  13. ^ Turner, Zeke; Houston-Waesch, Monica (10 May 2016). "One Man Dead, Three Injured in Knife Attack Near Munich". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 10 May 2016.
  14. ^ McBride, Brian; Le Blond, Josie (10 May 2016). "Stabbing in Germany Leaves 1 Dead, 3 Wounded, Authorities Say". Yahoo! GMA. Retrieved 10 May 2016.
  15. ^ Prendergast, Daniel (10 May 2016). "NYPD tightens subway security after deadly attack in Germany". New York Post. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
  16. ^ Chung, Jen (10 May 2016). "NYPD Increases Subway Security After Fatal Attack At Munich Train Station". Gothamist. Archived from the original on 5 November 2017. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
  17. ^ Garaev, Polina (14 May 2016). "Valuing privacy more than most, experts disagree if Germans would accept regular searches of their belongings". I24News. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
  18. ^ a b "Global terrorist groups exploit mentally ill people to carry out attacks". The Straits Times. Agence France. 12 May 2016. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  19. ^ "The Convergence of Mental Illness and Terrorism". Soufan Group. 11 May 2016. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  20. ^ Pezet, Jacques (12 May 2016). "Attaques au couteau en Bavière : comment le coupable Paul H. est devenu Rafik Youssef" [Knife attacks in Bavaria: how the perpetrator Paul H. became Rafik Youssef]. Libération (in French). Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  21. ^ Staudenmaier, Rebecca (31 May 2016). "Reports: Hanover teen may have followed 'IS' orders when stabbing cop". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 25 July 2016. Since the German-Moroccan teen Safia S. assaulted a policeman with a knife in February, federal prosecutors and investigators in Germany have been trying to determine if the stabbing was an act of terrorism. New evidence could prove that the attack was not only inspired by the militant "Islamic State" (IS) group, but that Safia S. may have received direct orders to carry it out.
  22. ^ "Ein Toter bei mutmaßlich islamistischem Messerangriff in München" [One dead in suspected Islamist knife attack in Munich]. Frankfurter Allgemeine (in German). 10 May 2016. Retrieved 10 May 2016.
  23. ^ Riccardi, Katia (18 July 2016). "Germania, 17enne afgano colpisce con ascia passeggeri su treno : tre feriti gravi". La Repubblica (in Italian). Retrieved 18 July 2016. A few months ago, May 10, at Grafing station on the S4 line, the train that connects to Munich, at 5 am, a man, Paul H., 27, had attacked four passengers with blows of knife, killing one and wounding three others. He was suffering from mental disorders, drug addiction, and had executed his death plan shouting "Allah akbar."
  24. ^ "Germany axe attack: Assault on train in Wuerzburg". BBC. 18 July 2016. Retrieved 18 July 2016. In May, a man reportedly shouting "Allahu akbar" ("God is great" in Arabic), killed one person and wounded three others in a knife attack at a railway station near the German city of Munich.
  25. ^ Ramdani, Nabila (25 May 2016). "Countering Fear". Newsweek. Retrieved 26 May 2016.