BERLIN - The suspect in the slaying of two U.S. airmen at the Frankfurt airport has confessed to targeting the U.S. military and says he acted alone, a top security official says.
Hesse Interior Minister Boris Rhein told reporters Thursday in Wiesbaden the suspect, identified as a 21-year-old ethnic Albanian from Kosovo, was apparently radicalized over the last few weeks, the DAPD news agency reported.
Rhein says that the investigation indicates that he acted alone and did not belong to a terrorist network or terrorist cell.
German federal prosecutors said the Wednesday shooting is being investigated as a possible act of Islamic terrorism.
The attacker's family in northern Kosovo identified him as Arid Uka, whose family has been living in Germany for 40 years. His family says he worked at Frankfurt airport and was a devout Muslim.
Investigators were looking into witness reports that the gunman shouted, "God is great!", in Arabic (Allahu Akbar) as he began firing, reported CBS News correspondent Bob Orr.
Uka is in custody and is to appear in court later in the day.
In Washington, President Obama promised to "spare no effort" in investigating the slayings. "I'mby this attack," he said.
Frankfurt police spokesman Juergen Linker told the DAPD news agency that one airman remained in critical condition after being shot in the head. The other airman was not in life-threatening condition, Linker said. Both men were being treated at the Frankfurt University clinic. None of the victims have yet been identified.
Kosovo is mostly Muslim, but its estimated 2 million ethnic Albanians are strongly pro-American due to the U.S.'s leading role in NATO's 1999 bombing of Serb forces that paved the way for Kosovo to secede from Serbia.
The U.S. Embassy in Kosovo's capital Pristina said in a statement that "the act of a single individual will in no way affect the deep and abiding friendship between our two countries."
The suspect's uncle, Rexhep Uka, said the suspect's grandfather was a religious leader at a mosque in a village near Mitrovica, and that Arid Uka was a devout Muslim himself.
But he said the family was pro-American and was also having a hard time imagining that their nephew was involved.
"I love the Americans because they helped us a lot in times of trouble," he told The Associated Press in Kosovo. "I had an American neighbor and we never had a problem. What happened in Germany is beyond me."
Behxhet Uka, a cousin of the suspect, said he had spoken to the gunman's father Frankfurt by telephone several times. The family told him that they only knew that their son did not come home from work at the Frankfurt airport on Wednesday.
"We heard about this from the local police, and it was confirmed that this shooter was my first cousin," he said. "I would hope that this is not true, but if it is true, it will be very hard for us here in Kosovo. We could not imagine something like this would happen because Americans are our brothers."
Frankfurt airport spokesman Alfred Schmoeger said he had "no information" about Uka working at the airport, but said it was being checked.
"We have 70,000 people who work here at 500 businesses," he said.
Police said the attacker had an altercation with U.S. military personnel in front of a bus outside the airport's Terminal 2. They said the man started shooting, then boarded the bus briefly and was apprehended by police when he tried to escape.
The airmen were based in Britain, a U.S. Air Force spokesman for the Lakenheath airfield in eastern England said. They were bound to Ramstein Air Base from where they were to have been deployed to support an overseas operation, the U.S. military said, without elaborating.
The U.S. has some 50,000 troops stationed in Germany. It operates several major facilities in the Frankfurt region, including the Ramstein Air Base, which is often used as a logistical hub for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.