Germany is on a country-wide terrorism watch after is citizens voted in a center-right government under conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel in Sunday’s federal election. In days leading up to the election, Islamists had increasingly threatened terrorist attacks inside Germany, if Germans did not vote for withdrawal of their troops from Afghanistan.
To their credit, German voters would not be intimidated and elected Merkel who had stated German soldiers would probably stay in Afghanistan another ten years. But the terrorist threat to Germany was regarded as serious enough to warrant a travel warning from the United States government.
The most menacing, pre-election threat was made by a young al Qaeda spokesman dressed in western suit and tie with gel in his hair. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8269995.stm)[Threatening Germans](http://archive.frontpagemag.com/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=36389) in a video from the wilds of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region, he said failure to vote the way al Qaeda wanted would cause Germans to suffer a “rude awakening.” A terrorist attack, he promised, would occur inside Germany within two weeks after election day.
As incongruous as the man’s appearance was, just as disturbing for Germans was that the threat was made in near-perfect German. Calling himself Abu Talha, the German, the speaker’s almost accent-free fluency in the language of Schiller and Goethe did not surprise intelligence agencies. German citizens, they believe, now form a sizeable contingent, if not the largest, from Western countries in al Qaeda’s Waziristan camps.
“More than 50 Germans are being trained in those camps,” Wolfgang Bosbach, a member of Germany’s ruling conservative party, told the newspaper, Rheinische Post, last year. Terrorism expert Guido Steinberg informed another German publication that there is now “…inside of the terrorist structures … a German-speaking infrastructure, which is very well-informed about our conditions and equipped with modern communications technology.”
These German terrorists, especially the ethnic German converts, who are currently regarded as a real threat to launch attacks against German targets both at home and abroad. Besides being led by top Taliban and al Qaeda commanders, they can, one observer noted, circulate almost inconspicuously through German society and know its weak spots.
According to a story in Der Spiegel, this phenomenon of young Germans joining al Qaeda’s jihad is growing, as entire families are leaving Germany for Pakistan. To entice them, Al Qaeda recently issued a half-hour video invitation, again in German, to the “beloved” brothers and sisters in Germany.
Sounding like a tourism ad, it showed scenes of “lush greenery”, mountains, women in burqas and children, while all the things a family would need, like “hospitals, doctors, pharmacies as well as a daycare center and a school” are promised. And everything is “a long way from the front.
“Doesn’t it appeal to you? We warmly invite you to join us,” relates the video’s narrator, Mounir Chouka, who grew up in Bonn, a German city in the Rhineland.
As the Spiegel story points out, it is unusual for Islamic terrorist organizations to recruit whole families. However, it states this latest approach is finding “fertile ground” in Germany and cites as proof the German government trying to get six Germans, arrested while travelling to al Qaeda camps, released from Pakistani custody. One is an ethnic German convert accompanied by his Eritrean wife and four-year old daughter who were also imprisoned.
Talha is also part of this terrorist family travel tourism. Talha is actually a 32-year old German citizen named Bekkay Harrach, also from Bonn, who arrived in Germany at age four from Morocco. Harrach’s wife is an ethnic German convert who always wore a veil in Germany. Last year, she joined her husband in Pakistan last with their baby son in her second attempt to reach him. Another ethnic German convert now occupies their apartment in Bonn.
On Monday, German authorities took into protective custody two of Harrach’s Islamist acquaintances in Munich. In a very German counter-terrorism measure, they will be released only after Oktoberfest, which German security officials regard as an attractive “soft target” for any terrorist attack.
Besides Harrach, the most famous German terrorist in the Pakistan-Waziristan area is Erich Breiniger, an ethnic German convert. In a video last fall, he alarmed the German public and security authorities when he warned there would be revenge attacks inside Germany for the German troop presence in Afghanistan.
“The German people must turn to its own government, if it wants to be spared from attacks by Muslims in Germany,” said Breiniger, whose Muslim name is Abdul Gaffer al-Amini.
But the German terrorist colony in Pakistan also poses a grave threat to non-Germans, especially to Americans. A German-Turk from Bavaria, Cunyet Ciftci, had targeted American soldiers in a suicide attack in Khost province in 2008. He detonated a delivery truck loaded with explosives before a barracks, killing two American soldiers and severely injuring dozens of others.
Ciftci, 28, had arrived in the Afghan-Pakistan region a year earlier with his wife and two children. He is Germany’s first known suicide bomber. The Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), an al Qaeda-allied Uzbek terrorist outfit that recruited him in Germany, called him “a brave Turk.”
Even inside Germany, Americans are a primary target of German jihadists. The Sauerland trial, currently underway in Dusseldorf against four homegrown German terrorists, has heard that the defendants intended to blow up discos and night clubs American soldiers frequented in a series of bomb attacks. The defendants cited their hatred of the United States as the reason for the murderous plot.
“We didn’t want to kill two or three soldiers, but rather many,” one defendant, an ethnic German convert, told the court.
It is now a reality that al Qaeda speaks German. Besides the United States, Germany is the only country, to which al Qaeda directs videos in its native language. Only time will tell whether Harrach’s video was simply another weapon in its propaganda war, as some believe. That, however, is unlikely as it is clear al Qaeda’s Germans must now stage at least one terrorist attack after so much fanfare or risk derision.