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Just Not That Into Jihad – The Story Of Rami Makanesi

by Florian Flade


He wanted to talk, tell his story and tell the court about his adventure that became a nightmare for him – Rami Makanesi, a 25 years-old German national and Al-Qaida member.

On Thursday last week his trial began in Frankfurt and it will end today also due to the fact that Makanesi agreed to fully tell what he experienced in the world of Jihad, in the terror camps of Waziristan and the prison cells of the Pakistani intelligence agency. This is his story.

Rami Makanesi´s life began as so many in the Frankfurt suburbs. Born in Frankfurt-Bockenheim in 1985 to a Syrian family from Aleppo. His father is car dealer. When Rami was eleven, his parents divorced. A year later he was a regular weed consumer, smoking the drug as others smoke regular cigarettes – several joints a day. Soon, cocain will follow.

As a teenager Rami was sentenced to youth custody, never lasting longer than a few weeks. Due to drugs, parties and alcohol, he was skipping classes and was eventually expelled from Frankfurt´s Georg-Büchner-School. Later he was able to graduate from school.

“I was a party animal”, Rami Makanesi recounts today, “I went to bed stoned and woke up stoned.” Initially he had planned to study Economy and IT at the Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe University, but his lifestyle destroyed his educational plans although he was registered as a student at the university.

Religion was never of interest for the German national of Syrian descent. Party, friends, drugs, girls were at the center of Rami´s life, not Allah. And there was food. When Ramadan began in 2007, Rami Makanesi´s weight stood at 125kg. The holy Muslim month of fasting became a religious experience for Rami he had never had before.

The Muslim missionary movement Tabligh-i Jamaat was holding a work-shop in a Frankfurt mosque. Rami, who lived in his own apartment in the “Kuwald-Siedlung” in Frankfurt-Bockenheim, attended the event and felt like a reborn Muslim – “I came from darkness to light”. He dropped drugs and partying, focussed on the religion. Instead of chasing girls in the Frankfurt bars and clubs, he rode his motorbike to the mosques, attending Friday prayers.

Once weed and cocain were defining his life, now Islam became Rami´s addiction. He felt drawn to the very conservative version of Salafi Islam, praising militant Jihad. On November 1 2007 Rami Makanesi entered a German Jihadi Online-Forum in search for advice. “Brother, let´s say I want to make Jihad, who will bring me across the border?”, Makanesi asked. The forum moderators laughed about the stupid question – “We will definitely not provide you here with a detailed map how to get there.”

But Rami was keen on finding a way how to get to the land of Jihad – the Pakistani tribal areas of Waziristan. He befriended with one of the Jihadi forum´s hosts, a 18 year-old Serbian named Irfan P. The two shared the same views on religion and politics, both were fans of propaganda videos from Afghanistan and Iraq, spreading it on the Internet.

Rami and Irfan became good friends and were in constant contact over the Internet. Finally, the two met in real life and agreed on finding a way to get to Waziristan. In early 2008 Irfan told Rami he could arrange the travels. “I have contact to the brothers there”, he wrote to his friend. Investigators believe the talk of contacts was probably not true – but Irfan knew a person that German officials say has ties to the Jihadi scene.

That person was Abu Ubaydah – a preacher from Bonn. Irfan and Rami visited Abu Ubaydah´s lectures regularly, at least once a month. They were deeply impressed by the young cleric´s knowledge and charisma. One day, Makanesi and his friend had just met visited the preacher, the two were on their way back, driving in a car. What they did not know: German counter-terrorism agents had placed microphones inside the car. “I don´t want to wait any longer”, Irfan P. said to Rami according to documents prepared for the trial, “Maybe Abu Ubaydah will make the decision next week.”

Without any doubt Irfan and Rami were ready to travel to Waziristan and become Jihadi militants. It was Irfan that destroyed the planning when he knocked down a man selling mobile phones and ended up in prison. During the investigation it became clear to the police the young Serb was very much involved in Online Jihadi activities and was spreading terrorist propaganda on a daily basis. Irfan P. was released in summer 2009 after German intelligence offered him to work for them. He was pardoned and sent to Berlin to infiltrate the local Jihadi community.

Rami Makanesi stayed out of prison and instead moved to Hamburg in mid 2008. Earlier that year, while surfing different websites in search of a future wife, Rami came across a young German woman from the coastal town. Jasmin S., born in 1983 is a German convert who´s first husband was from Turkey. She fell in love with the chubby Frankfurt Islamist Rami. The couple´s wedding took place in Hamburg´s notorious Taiba Mosque (formerly known as “Al-Quds Mosque”), the same location where the 9/11 Hijackers had worshipped.

In Juli 2008 Rami moved to Hamburg-Horn, now living with his German wife. Very soon he became a regular visitor to the Taiba Mosque and befriended with other worshippers. Among them were men like Ahmad Wali S., a German of Afghan origin, Shahab D., a Iranian national who grew up in Hamburg and Michael W., a German convert. Rami found friends that – just like he did – felt inspired by the propaganda coming from Waziristan. The men were drawn to Jihad, eager to leave Germany to fight in the name of Allah.

“I did not belong here anymore”, Rami told the judge last week. He wanted to leave the country sooner than later. About a dozen of his new friends, including their wives, shared the same wish. The only question was: Who could bring them to Waziristan? How should they – immigrants, former criminals, converts, reverts – get there?

The answer was a 57 year-old Kabul-born men named Assadullah M.. Hamburg investigators had known M. for years. In 2002 he was accused of forming a terrorist group and calling for Jihad. Allegedly he had told friends he swore to Allah to die as a martyr. To Rami Makanesi and his friends, Assadullah M. was the solution to their problem – he was the one who knew how to get to Waziristan.

Assadullah´s wife and children had moved to Pakistan in 2004 and were now living in Peshawar. At least four times a year he would visit them, traveling back and forth. Now he – whom they called “our lion” – was tasked to arrange the travels of Rami and his friends.

In September 2008 German intelligence monitored a meeting of Islamists – including Rami Makanesi – in Bonn. The agents knew something was planned at that meeting but they could not find out what Rami and the others talked about. In the coming months the Hamburg group met several times in different apartments. One time, when they visited one of their brothers, a camera inside the elevator captured the scene. Investigators later saw who attended these meetings.

Assadullah M. left Germany in early February 2009 and flew to Peshawar. His task was to find places to stay in Pakistan for his Hamburg friends. A month later, Rami Makanesi started the journey that would change his life and make him a wanted terrorist. “I wanted to live Islam, with all its elements”, Makanesi explains his motives.

He travelled from Hamburg to Vienna (Austria) and took a flight to Iran, then driving all the way to Zahedan. There he waited for a someone to take him to the Pakistani tribal areas just across the border. Somewhere in April 2009 he arrived in Waziristan – as the first from the Hamburg group. Assadullah M. had given him a name and address of a local resident who would take care of him.

Rami found the house in the town Mir Ali, close to the town´s center, right next to a mosque. The Frankfurt Islamist knocked on the door and a man named Sher Maulana Khan opened. Khan had expected the German brother and offered him a room for rent – 5 EUROs per month.

Soon after he made contact with the “Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan” (IMU), Rami Makanesi entered the world of Jihad. Together with three of his Hamburg friends (two had been arrested upon their arrival in Peshawar and sent back to Germany) he attended the IMU training camps. Makanesi explained in court, there were two camps in the region called “Badr” along the main road leading from the town of Makin to Bana. Each had about 25 Jihadi recruits in training. The military training itself took weeks and involved shooting with various weapons including RPGs and mortars.

Life in the mountains of Waziristan was not the easy adventure Makanesi expected it to be. During a phone call to his father in Frankfurt, Makanesi said life in Waziristan was much harder and more difficult than he had imagined. He told him about the long hikes in the mountains, how he carried heavy grenade launchers and missiles. “I had some weight issues and backache”, Makanesi said in court. The Jihadi day to day life was frustrating for the Frankfurt city boy who had enjoyed party, drinking and getting stoned for years.

Out in the field, all the Pashtun Taliban gave him for food was potatoes, oil and bread, Makanesi remembers. In Mir Ali, he had seen all the groceries one could have wished for – cheese, sweets and even Nutella. But at the frontlines, were the IMU militants were fighting the Pakistani forces, there was no luxury but instead a shortage in food.

On August 8 2009 Makanesi called his wife Jasmin in Hamburg, who was a mother now. “I drove 4 hours to get to a place where they have phones”, Makanesi told her, “but I learn many things from the brothers here.” Thirteen of his fellow Jihadi brothers had already become “martyrs”, some in US drone strikes.

Back in Hamburg, Rami´s wife apparently feared her husband would marry a second wife in Waziristan. She considered joining him. According to the police investigation, Jasmin S. sold several of her belongings on Ebay, including the couple´s computer. One of the buyers was a undercover police agent, eager to get hold of the harddrive, which was – as was later discovered – packed with propaganda material including videos of beheadings.

When Jasmin S. was preparing to make the journey to Waziristan, police showed up out of the sudden and asked her why she was packing luggage. She said she wants to be with her husband. “That is not a good idea”, police then said. S. then stayed in Germany, a descision that maybe even saved her life.

At the very latest in early 2010, the still overweight Makanesi was fed up with Jihad in the Waziristan mountains. He felt he was not fit and strong enough for Jihad, Makanesi later told interrogators. Back in Mir Ali, he contacted a local Al-Qaida figure, asking if a meeting could be arranged. A short time later several Toyota SUVs arrived.

This was the moment Rami Makanesi, a young and naive loser from Frankfurt´s ghetto, came in touch with Al-Qaida. The man who arrived and greeted him was a skinny North African who introduced himself as “Al-Qaida´s No.3″ – Sheikh Muhammad Yunis al-Mauretani.

Al-Mauretani whom Makanesi describes as “Al-Qaida´s foreign minister”, was searching for recruits. His plan was to create a cell, a group of Western Jihadis tasked with a very special mission: terrorist attacks in Europe. Makanesi volunteered, asked to be sent to the training lessons.

The Sheikh explained to the German reruit what he had in mind for the Europe plot. He wants attacks against targets that would harm the Western economy, al-Mauretani said. Al-Qaida in Yemen´s parcel-bomb plot last year was part of that plan, Makanesi claims. According to him, al-Mauretani was very excited about the terror plot – “What we have in mind, not even the devil can imagine this.”

Rami Makanesi, Ahmad Wali S. and another Hamburg Jihadi became students of Sheikh al-Mauretani. All three were trained on encrypting software whom the al-Qaida man said was about to be used as a form of communication between the cells in Europe and al-Qaida´s leadership in Waziristan. Al-Mauretani claimed, the formation of the terror cells and the strategy were sanctioned by none other than Osama Bin Laden himself. The Al-Qaida leader had already given his “ok” and provided the necessary amount of money, al-Mauretani told the Jihadis from Germany.

During the trial in Frankfurt, Makanesi said he thinks Al-Mauretani himself was not in direct contact with Bin Laden. Another al-Qaida figure described as the “Commander in Afghanistan”, the Libyan Attiyatullah al-Libi, was the only one who communicated with Osama Bin Laden directly, according to Makanesi – “I had the feeling, they were using us to try how far they could go with plotting in Europe.”

Perhaps because of his wife and child back in Hamburg, or because of his parents, brothers and friends in Frankfurt, or because he was disappointed by the harsh reality of Waziristan, Rami Makanesi wanted to turn his back on the Jihadi adventure. As the feeling of leaving Waziristan grew stronger, he contacted Sheikh al-Mauretani again. “I wrote him a letter saying I was not able to perform Jihad”, Makanesi tells. But instead of just saying “Goodbye”, he made an offer to the Al-Qaida commander.

Back in Germany, Makanesi offered al-Mauretani, he could collect money for al-Qaida, more than 20.000 EUROs in six months. Al-Mauretani seemed to like the idea and agreed.

On his way to Pakistan the facilitator and local contacts had taken all of Makanesi´s documents. Now he was in Waziristan and had no proper plan of getting back to Germany. He knew tough that he was probably wanted for terrorism. What to do now?

June 15 2010, German Embassy in Islamabad: The phone rang. It was Rami Makanesi. He explained to the German officials who he is, what he plans to do and why he needs their help. The story seemed plausible. Makanesi said he knows he is wanted for terrorism charges and he wants to turn himself in, but  does not habe travel or identification documents and therefore needs some diplomatic help to travel to the embassy.

The German embassy agreed to meet Makanesi in Islamabad and sent him a document via e-mail telling all Pakistani security or intelligence officials not to arrest but to take him to the embassy. A local member of Germany´s BKA (similar to the FBI) thought giving a Jihadi terrorist the opportunity to come to Islamabad was not a very smart idea. The agent contacted his superiors in Germany and told them: there is a dangerous terrorist on his way to the embassy. What if he intends to commit a suicide bombing?

Germany´s interior ministry decided to inform the Pakistani ISI about Makanesi. So while the embassy was waiting for the Jihadi who does not want to fight Jihad anymore, the BKA wanted Makanesi in handcuffs.

On June 26 2010 Pakistani soldiers stopped a car at a checkpoint in Bannu, close to the tribal areas. Inside there was what looked like a family: two men, two women dressed in Burqas and a young girl. One of the women was unusually tall and big. The soldiers told them to step out of the car. Now it was obvious: one woman was in fact a man – Rami Makanesi.

The chubby German Jihadi showed the e-mail from the German embassy to the Pakistani troops. They only took it away from him, pulled a bag over his head and took him to a prison cell he had to share with two other men. The interrogation by the ISI was “hardcore” according to Makanesi. The Pakistanis did not provide him with enough food or water – “I was close to loosing my conscious a few times because I was so weak.”

After two months at the hands of the ISI interrogators, Rami Makanesi was sent back to Germany and is now facing a four year prison term. He was not made for Jihad, Makanesi repeated in the court room, saying he was not strong enough and could not handle the difficult life in Waziristan. One of his best friends from the days in Hamburg, Shahab D. is dead now, killed by a US drone strike last October on the house of Sher Maulana Khan where Makanesi had lived, too. Another friend, Ahmad Wali S., was captured by US troops in Afghanistan in July 2010.

Taliban Claim Arrest of “Canadian Spy”

by Florian Flade

The Afghan Taliban claim to have captured a Canadian national in Southern Afghanistan, accusing him of being a “spy”. The 29 year-old man allegedly named Colin Rutherford is said to be resident of Toronto and was kidnapped by the Taliban insurgents in Ghazni Province, the Islamists claim.

According to the Taliban they have obtained documents and photographs which proof the Canadian was on a spying mission. A Taliban Spokesman said, those holding the Canadian have been contacted by Canadian officials, talks about the release of the accused spy were not successful yet. A video of the kidnapped man will be released soon, the Taliban states.

Even if there is no proof of the kidnapping claim, there are credible reports of a Canadian citizen who went missing in Ghazni several weeks ago. One of the sources of this information is allegedly the governor of Ghazni himself.

Meanwhile the Canadian government confirmed a Canadian citizen went missing in Afghanistan. Mr.Rutherford was travelling the country as a tourist. A recent graduate of University of Toronto, the 29-year old Canadian has traveled to the region a few times. In 2009 he traveled to Pakistan, stayed in Islamabad for three weeks and then traveled to the Kashmir region. Rutherford allegedly also traveled to Kabul, Afghanistan, October – November 2010.


From Jihadi Camp to NATO Military

by Florian Flade

As a teenager he trained at camp of Pakistani terrorist group Lashkar e-Toiba – later he joined the German military. At first, nobody cared about the Jihadi past of Yannick Nasir, then the Navy sacked him. Now he tells his unique story about growing up with a stepfather who worked for al-Qaida.

Mumbai November 2008 – Lashkar e-Toiba´s Biggest Attack

Yannick Nasir served Germany – twice. First he was a Navy soldier in the German Bundeswehr, stationed off the coast of Lebanon. Later, he testified in front of a court against his own stepfather – convicted al-Qaida terrorist Aleem Nasir. Both services were not appreciated and rewarded by German officials the way Yannick Nasir expected. He lost both his job in the German military and gave up his identity to live a life in hiding from those seeking revenge for the conviction of his stepfather.

Two years after Aleem Nasir, a German national of Pakistani descent, was found guilty having supported al-Qaida in Pakistan with money and equipment, his stepson Yannick told German radio SWR his own personal story. It is the story of a horrible family experience, the story of a violent and abusive father who pushed his own family into radical Islam and the shadowy world of terrorist networks. It is also the story of a young man whose dream it was to serve the country he was born in and loved so dearly as a soldier. Military, Yannick Nasir today says, was family to him. All he wanted was to be among friends and comrades.

The story of Yannick Nasir begins in Germersheim, Western Germany. While she was pregnant with him, his mother fell in love with a Pakistani man who had come to Germany to study and work. A few months before Yannick was born, the couple married. Aleem Nasir became the stepfather to the young boy whom his mother wanted to name Yannick Gideon. At the age of one, as a young toddler, Yannick was “forced” into Islam, converted by his parents who gave him the Muslim name Obaid.

Aleem Nasir never regarded Yannick as his son. He treated him more like a friend or a assistant. While Yannick grew up with parents whom he later described as having a “difficult marriage situation”, Aleem Nasir worked as a draftsman at a nuclear research center near Germersheim. Then came the day that not only changed world politics but also family life for the Nasirs – September 11th 2001.

He remembers, Yannick says, how he told his mother about the building in America that had just exploded on TV, about the plane that hit the towers in New York. Neither his mother nor he as a young teenage boy understood what was happening in Manhattan at that moment. Both were as shocked as most people who followed events in front of their TV. Aleem Nasir was at work but he called his wife. “He was very excited”, Yannick remembers, “almost screaming into the phone.” His stepfather Yannick later realized knew exactly who was responsible for the terror attacks on New York and Washington. Islam was about to conquer the world, Aleem Nasir was convinced.

In the company he was working in, Nasir, who dressed in long Islamic clothes, having a long beard, was a fully respected person. A colleague with strong religious belief but not a fanatic. All that changed after 9/11. One day, Aleem Nasir climbed onto a table in the company´s canteen chanting “See what happened in New York…you have the same fate!” This incident caused media attention for the small Western Germany family with the Pakistani father and the German mother and son.

A camera team of Germany´s ZDF TV visited the Nasir family, asking Aleem Nasir if he supports al-Qaida and loved Osama Bin Laden. “I have been living here for more than 15 years”, Nasir responded, “And suddenly I´m the No.1 terrorist in Europe?” Terrorism he stated, is not the content of the Quran. Muslims should not be held accountable by the German people for 9/11. “I remember”, stepson Yannick says, “When the camera crew left, Aleem said something like: if they would know…”

By the time the world´s media attention focussed on Jihadism, Yannick had already realized his father was committed to a very radical interpretation of Islam. During his travels back and forth to Pakistan, Aleem Nasir had met with several leaders and members of Islamist organizations. He was contacted by Pakistani´s ISI intelligence, too. Allegedly the ISI wanted Aleem Nasir to spy on the German nuclear research program.

Eventually Aleem Nasir lost his job at the nuclear research center. This was the last time he was ever employed. Yannick was beaten by Aleem Nasir, one time even the police showed up to stop the violent stepfather.

In 2002 Aleem Nasir decided to leave Germany. Along with his wife and children he moved to Pakistan, settling in the city of Lahore. Yannick and his mother did not feel comfortable in the new environment. They started to realize that Aleem Nasir for years had lived two lives. One as a family father and immigrant laborer living in Germany, the other as a well-respected, high-ranking member of Pakistan´s Lashkar e-Toiba (LeT) Movement -  a Islamist group declared a terrorist organization by the US. LeT is said to be responsible for the Mumbai Attacks of November 2008 and other terrorists attacks in India and Pakistan.

In Pakistan the group provided Aleem Nasir with bodyguards, drivers and he was even given honorary titles like “Amir”. Aleem was, as Yanick describes his impression from back then, LeT´s ambassador in Germany.

While in Pakistan Aleem Nasir met regularly with LeT´s leader, Hafiz Saeed. Both men were eager to set up a network collection donations from European supports and transferring the money to Pakistan. “One day Aleem read a newspaper article about a Lashkar e-Toiba fighters from a local school who had become a shaheed in Kashmir”, Yannick recounts, “He told me: you should become a fighter, too.”

So shortly after then 15year-old Yannick was sent to a madrassa belonging to the LeT-network and stayed there for months. As one of several dozen students he learned Arabic, read the Quran many hours a day and listened to lectures and Quran recitation. “There was also shooting at targets with Kalashnikovs”, Yannick tells, “I would describe it as something similar to a Hitler-Youth summer camp.” Yannick Nasir had become Obaid Nasir the mujahed. He adapted radical Jihadi ideology and to a certain percent believed in it. However the German boy was never given the opportunity to fight Jihad in Afghanistan or Kashmir. His family moved back to Germany some time after Yannick left the LeT camp.

Back in Germany, Aleem Nasir started to raise money for LeT. He collected donations from mosque and Islamic centers around Western Germany, become a close associate of Dr.Yusif and other known figures of the radical Islamist community in and around Ulm.

Nasir traveled between Pakistan and Germany, trying to establish a gemstone trade to make even more money for LeT. The organization itself struggled to keep its position in Pakistan. Hafiz Saeed, the leader, was put under house arrest and Pakistani authorities ordered a stop to LeT´s calls for Jihad The political atmosphere with strong NATO presence in neighboring Afghanistan forced the Pakistani leadership to calm down those allies driven by Jihadi ideology.

LeT kept on demanding Aleem to send money. If the Jihad was stopped, Aleem Nasir asked, why does LeT still need the money from Germany? He became suspicious. For years he had worked hard to support the Jihad, he had even sent Yannick with 40,000 US-Dollars in cash, hidden in chocolate packaging to smuggle to Pakistan.
During one trip to Pakistan, Aleem Nasir learned LeT had used the money for very different purposes. The organization´s leaders bought cars, real estate and other things – but Aleem´s money was not fueling Jihad in Afghanistan or Kashmir. Disappointed and angry, the German national was not willing anymore to send money. At that point Aleem was contacted by al-Qaida.

Yannick says the man who approached Aleem introduced himself as “the deputy to Ayman az-Zawahiri in Pakistan”. The al-Qaida member made an offer. Aleem could work for al-Qaida and become the network´s head of logistics in Germany. Money, equipment as well as new fighters from Europe were needed. Finally Aleem Nasir agreed.

With the help of two other Islamists from Germany, Nasir bought nightvision devices and flashlights and sent them to al-Qaida in Pakistan. He himself traveled several times to the Pakistan-Afghan border region and met with high-ranking al-Qaida members in the tribal areas of Waziristan.
In Germany he was searching for acceptable candidates for terror training in Waziristan, and found – among others – a young German-Moroccan from Bonn – Bekkay Harrach. Harrach traveled to Waziristan in 2007 with a written note from Aleem proving he was a trustworthy recruit. Later Harrach rose the ranks of al-Qaida and was featured in two propaganda tapes threatening attacks against Germany.

At that time – 2007 – Yannick Nasir, who knew of his stepfather´s business and his travels to al-Qaida heartland, left the family. Yannick was fed up with the violent, angry father who treated him like a slave. His mother´s marriage, he says, was just a lie for Aleem to win his citizenship. The stepson had a great dream of becoming a soldier serving Germany. What if the military would find out about his past training at a Pakistani terror camp? Yannick decided to try a different approach to become a military man.

He drove to Straßbourg on the French side of the border, willing to sign up for the Foreign Legion. “They offered a new identity, which I wanted at that time”, Yannick Nasir says, “And they offered good money.” The first aptitude check in sports Yannick passed, the second one he failed. Foreign Legion suddenly was a dead end, so he went back to Germany and enlisted in the Bundeswehr (Germany´s military). Surprisingly he was accepted and eventually trained as a Navy soldier.

On board of Frigate “Hessen”, Yannick served as part of UNIFIL, the peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, starting from 2007. Yannick´s dream came close to being true, he planned on a officer cadet career. He kept quiet about his experience in Pakistan, about his time in the LeT camp, about the weapon´s training and the Jihadi brainwashing. That was the past, something he wanted to forget and erase from his life, a dark time he never wanted to return to.

“One time I talked to my commander”, says Yannick, “he told me he was informed about my past and my biography.” It was obviously no problem in the eyes of the military leadership to have a trained Jihadi fighter in the German Navy. In July 2008, then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited the “Hessen” off the coast of Lebanon. Picture were taken for the press releases. In one of the images Steinmeier is seen greeting soldiers standing in line – one of them is Yannick Nasir, holding a gun.

German military´s internal intelligence agency, the “Militärische Abschirmdienst” (MAD) is responsible for checking soldier´s backgrounds, hunting for possible spies or security threats. As it seems now they checked Yannick Nasir and they knew of his terror camp experience, yet they thought he had given up the Jihadi ideology and was no security anymore.

Mid-2008 Yannick´s stepfather Aleem was arrested by German police after he returned from Pakistan. Investigators had gathered enough information to put him on trial for supporting al-Qaida and recruiting terrorists. Police visited Yannick and asked him if he would tell the judge about all his experience with Aleem, about the travels, the people he met, the things he said and did.

Yannick thought about the police´s request. Later he told in court the decision to testify against Aleem was made when he saw the coffins of German soldiers on TV, soldiers who had died in Afghanistan in the war on terror. Under one condition, Yannick told his lawyers and police, he would tell everything he knew about Aleem and his al-Qaida support network: “I want to keep my job.” As he understood it, German authorities promised to meet that condition, telling him he should not worry about his job in the German military.

With a German flag pinned to his jacket as a symbol of support for the country, Yannick finally appeared in court in 2008 and 2009 as the principal witness, testifying in great length against Aleem Nasir. His statements were important for the court to sentence Nasir to eight years in prison for support and membership of a terrorist organization in July 2009. Yannick, was about to talk a al-Qaida terrorist into prison, was put under a witness protection program by the regional police. It is very likely he changed his identity.

For Yannick the trial against his stepfather did not work out as wished. The military fired him, telling him because of “personal reasons” he could no longer be member of the armed forces. Today the former Jihadi says German authorities lied and tricked him into testifying against Aleem. He feels fooled and is angry about how the military in which he served as a good soldier, dropped him just like that.

“The whole thing did not pay off for me”, Yannick Nasir told German radio, “To the contrary: I have lost much of my life´s quality. Nevertheless I´m satisfied I did testify, I do not regret one second of it.”

Holger Schmidt, SWR´s Terrorism expert who interviewed Yannick Nasir at secret places the former Jihadi and former soldier picked for the meetings, has asked the German military why they sacked him – he did not receive any answer prior to the radio show´s release on Wednesday evening.

“This young man risked alot for Germany und has been dropped by the Bundeswehr like a hot potato”, Schmidt says. Neither the prosecutor attorney nor the judge in the trial against Aleem Nasir regarded Yannick Nasir as a security threat in any way. “Why shouldn´t he be a soldier?”, Schmidt asks.

Yannick Nasir´s story at SWR – “Inside al-Qaida” by Holger Schmidt