by Florian Flade
For the first time, the Chouka-Brothers, two German militants fighting in Waziristan, are telling their journey from Bonn to Yemen and finally to Pakistan. In Yemen the two met preacher Anwar al-Awlaki and later thought about joining al-Qaida in Pakistan but instead ended up with an Uzbek terror group.
The Chouka-Brothers known as “Abu Ibraheem” and “Abu Adam” are amongst the most popular Jihadi celebrities, featured in numerous videos produced and published by the “Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan” (IMU) in recent years. Mounir and Yassin Chouka, German citizens of Moroccan descent born and raised in the former German capital Bonn, have joined the Jihadi group operating in the Afghan-Pakistan tribal areas in 2008 and are now fighting Pakistani troops in the battles of Waziristan. Several German-language propaganda videos were produced by the Chouka-Brothers, in which the two called whole Muslim families from Germany to make “hijrah” to Pakistan and live a life of Jihad.
For years German journalists and counter-terrorism officials have examined the biographies of Yassin and Mounir Chouka from Bonn to try to understand their way of radicalization and the path to Islamic extremism. No other militant from Germany had a greater effect on German Islamists than the Chouka-Brothers. Though most facts about the brother´s lives prior to their move to the Pakistani terror camps are widely known – they were enthusiastic football players, graduated from school, did their military service, started a apprenticeship at the Federal Statistical Office – the precise details of when, how and on what route the brothers came to the Pakistani tribal areas remained a mystery or at least unconfirmed.
A very amateurish written biography of the Brother´s lives in Germany and Yemen was released a few years ago. In it, the Chouka´s path from German town of Bonn to Yemen was described for the first time. Some sources indicated the two Islamists lived in the Yemeni village of Dammaj and were students of the well-known Dar ul-Hadith School. None of that information was confirmed.
Today the IMU released a part of the Chouka Brother´s biography, highlighting “Our Way to the IMU”. Author of this latest IMU document release is Yassin Chouka alias “Abu Ibraheem”, the younger of the two brothers. He tells about how he and Mounir decided to leave Germany on the path of “hijrah” to a land of Jihad. They wanted to fight against the infidels but did not prefer any specific country.
“It did not matter to us if the journey would take us to Somalia, Palestine, Chechnya or Indonesia”, Yassin Chouka writes. Eventually the two Islamists traveled to Yemen. “After several months, when we were familiar with Yemen and the environment, we joined a group in the Hadramaut region called Al-Murabitoon”, the Jihadi from Bonn explains, “This group is armed and fights alongside al-Qaida with the aim to overthrow – with Allah´s help – the traitor government in Yemen.”
Jihad in Yemen began for the Chouka Brothers, and both were now involved and not only observers of combat. One of their close friends was allegedly a “former bodyguard of Sheikh Osama Bin Laden.”
“During our incredible adventure in Yemen, we had the great pleasure of meeting a truthful scholar of our times, Sheikh Al-Imam Anwar Awlaki”, Yassin Chouka states, “We spent precious hours with him. Our friend Anwar Awlaki, who owned a honey factory in Yemen, gathered some virtuous, great businessman to finance the Jihad in Somalia and to sent brothers into Iraq, to Somalia and to Afghanistan.”
One of Awlaki´s affiliates allegedly told the Choukas to go to Afghanistan for Jihad. Yemen, he said, was not a safe place for foreign mujahideen. “With our German passport”, Yassin Chouka writes, “we had a good chance of reaching Afghanistan, he said.” The militant than explained to the German Jihadis, they could bring their families, as the “mujahideen in that region wanted whole families to come.”
“We received this information on a Wednesday evening”, “Abu Ibraheem” highlights, “and five days later, after consulting our Amir, we were on board a plane taking us to Khorasan.” The journey took one month and was very well-planned and organized according to Yassin Chouka. Only a few days before they reached the Waziristan region of Pakistan, Mounir and Yassin Chouka were told by one of the trip organizers that the group they would join is the “Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.” Videos of this – unknown – group were shown to the Chouka Brothers. Their trip organizers were members of IMU and explained the group was one of the first Jihadi movements to pledge allegiance to Taliban leader Mullah Omar. IMU they were told, were the first to start Jihad in Pakistan.
“For the first time since the long journey began, we were faced with the question which group we should join”, Chouka remembers, “We asked the brother what was planned for us and which group we would end up. He answered it is up to us which group in Khorasan we want to join (…) The IMU he said, was fighting for the cause of the Ummah and not to expand their own ranks or gain new members.”
The brothers thought about the upcoming decision. “Our hearts were keen on joining the familiar brothers of al-Qaida”, Yassin Chouka writes, “but we were afraid Allah would not make the path an easy one for us.” They did not leave Germany, to meet Osama Bin Laden (whom they admire), the German militant says, and they did not travel to Pakistan to join specifically Osama´s al-Qaida, or a Arab or German group. Finally the brothers from Germany joined IMU, a militant group they hoped was fighting for Muslim causes and not for its own agenda.
“After about three years in the ranks of IMU, we feel honored and more than happy about this decision”, the newly released IMU document reads. Jihadi militants coming from 20 or more nations allegedly joined IMU in recent years.