REUTERS - The gunman who shot dead two U.S. airmen in a U.S. Army bus at Frankfurt airport on Wednesday was probably a lone operator motivated by radical Islamist beliefs, German authorities said on Thursday.
German media had reported the man could be part of a terrorist cell, raising the potential threat of further attacks on U.S. targets in Germany.
"He is a lone perpetrator according to our investigations so far," said Hesse Interior Minister Boris Rhein, adding there were no signs he belonged to a terrorist group. "There are reasons to believe that he is a radical Muslim."
Police arrested the man, who seriously wounded two further airmen, after the attack. Rhein said initial investigations had shown him to be willing to confess.
The gunman, identified as Arid Uka, is a 21-year old Kosovo national who was working on a short-term contract at the Frankfurt international postal centre, authorities said.
A spokesman for Germany's Federal prosecutors told Reuters that the suspect was present at the federal supreme court on Thursday and that they had formally requested the judge to issue a warrant of arrest.
This request was granted on the grounds that he was strongly suspected of committing murder in 2 counts, attempting murder in 3 counts and inflicting serious injuries in 2 counts.
Germany's new federal interior minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said the investigation was being carried out "at high speed" but there was no reason to increase security now.
"There is suspicion that the killing may have been motivated by Islamism," state prosecutors said, although not elaborating on the nature of the Islamism.
Media said the man, who visited Islamist websites and donned the fighter name "Abu Reyyan", shouted "Allahu Akbar" (God is Greatest) during the shooting.
U.S. President Barack Obama said on Wednesday he was outraged by the attack and the Kosovo government condemned the shooting. The Kosovo parliament held a minute of silence.
The U.S Ambassador to Germany, Philip Murphy, meanwhile, said that he though it would be a "mistake" to jump to conclusions.
"I think we should wait and see, get through this period, learn more about what happened, why it happened and then we can figure out what implications will come from that," he said.
The United States has had troops in Kosovo since 1999, when a NATO bombing campaign pushed out Serbian forces. The U.S. troops there now are helping to oversee a fragile peace that has held since Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008.
No diplomatic fallout
On Wednesday evening, people lit candles in Kosovo's capital Pristina and in the town of Mitrovica where the assailant is thought to be from. Kosovo newspapers said the attack had damaged the country's reputation.
The father of the gunman told Reuters on Thursday that he was shocked by the attack, and apologised to the victims' families and the American people. [ID:nBYT349211]
The U.S. embassy in Pristina however said "the act of a single individual will in no way affect the deep and abiding friendship between our two countries".
The U.S. Army bus had been transporting a team based in Britain from the airport to the Ramstein base, the U.S. airforce said. The team had been on its way to Afghanistan.
"Despite this tragedy, we believe Germany is a safe place for our airmen and families to live and work," U.S. air force in Europe vice commander, Lt. General Stephen Mueller said.
German Interior Minister Friedrich also condemned the attack and expressed sympathy for the victims.
"It is painful because our closest allies were hit on our territory," he said. "At this hour, the government stands firm in its support for our American friends, and will do everything possible to work with American authorities to get to the bottom of this."
Friedrich, in his first news conference as interior minister, also said there was nothing in history to prove Islam belonged to Germany, contradicting President Christian Wulff who said last year Islam was now part of German society.