ISIS’ claim of responsibility for the truck attack at a joyous Christmas market in Berlin could bolster President-elect Donald Trump’s hard-line border policies aimed at preventing a similar terrorist act in the U.S., a Republican operative said.

“That point of view that we can’t call it Islamic terrorism, that whole idea has been undercut for years, but this brings it home fresh and gives the ability for Trump and his team to fashion polic- ies and put procedures in place to strengthen the laws and our process,” said Republican strategist Dave Carney.

“It’s an unfortunate, terrible thing to happen, but the consequences here in America strengthen Donald Trump,” Carney said.

The New York casino and real estate mogul campaigned on the promise to employ “extreme vetting” on immigrants — and at one time promised to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country, though he later redefined that to stopping immigration from countries “compromised by terrorism.” He also wants to build a wall across the Mexican border.

“There’s no question, unfortunately, when these events happen, the result … reinforces the need and urgency to get our own internal immigration system, refugee system and our security in line and up to speed,” Carney said.

“It could be any outdoor event in Cincinnati or Atlanta or Boston.”

Trump on Monday was quick to link the Berlin attack to radical Islamic terror, though intelligence officials have released no information to back that up, and there’s no evidence to suggest a refugee or immigrant was responsible.

“ISIS and other Islamist terrorists continually slaughter Christians in their communities and places of worship as part of their global jihad,” Trump said in a statement. “These terrorists and their regional and worldwide networks must be eradicated from the face of the Earth, a mission we will carry out with all freedom-loving partners.”

ISIS claimed responsibility yesterday for the rampage at the Berlin Christmas market, calling a man who allegedly fled the truck “a soldier of the Islamic state” who “carried out the attack in response to calls for targeting citizens of the Crusader coalition.”

A State Department spokesman told CNN yesterday it didn’t have enough evidence to support ISIS’ claims.

But Germany remained a nation on edge last night, as authorities scrambled to find a suspect or suspects on the run, after suffering a devastating investigative setback.

Earlier, police released a 23-year-old Pakistani asylum-seeker who was believed to have been the driver. But forensic evidence failed to link the man — who had arrived in Germany last December — to the truck.

German authorities believe the driver who rammed into the Christmas market is still at large and could be armed.

A Polish man, thought to be the original operator of the truck, was found shot to death in the passenger seat. The weapon has not been recovered. In total, 12 people were killed and 48 were injured.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, facing a bitter re-election campaign next year and under fire for her policies of welcoming large numbers of refugees into the country, was forced to confront the possibility the terrorist could have been an immigrant.

“I know that it would be particularly difficult for all of us to bear if it is confirmed that this deed was carried out by a person who sought protection and asylum in Germany,” Merkel said yesterday before the suspect was released.

Merkel’s political rivals wasted no time using the tragedy to attack what they view as her lax policies letting in outsiders.

“These are Merkel’s dead,” one right-wing German pol tweeted.

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(c)2016 the Boston Herald

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