by Florian Flade
“Treasure trove” – that´s the word used by US intelligence officials to describe what the Navy SEALs Team found inside Osama Bin Laden´s compound in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad during their nighttime operation. After the American soldiers shot and killed the Al-Qaida leader and several other people inside the hideout, they went room to room seizing highly valuable material. More than 2,7 terabytes of files and data were obtained by the US, some of which was old propaganda recorded years ago.
The most interesting part of all the obtained documents were Bin Laden´s handwritten letters and speeches. It took the CIA months to analyze the Abbottabad material. Was there any unknown terror plot Al-Qaida was about to carry out soon? What was Bin Laden´s role in past terrorist operations? Was he a chief planner and knew of all the plots by his network?
It seems like the CIA decided to hand some of the material to their European partners – giving them documents which would be of interest to them. Documents in which the Al-Qaida leader talks about Europe. Two of these documents are especially interesting for German counter-terrorism officials.
During the Abbottabad raid the US obtained a strategy paper written by Al-Qaida´s alleged “Foreign Minister”, Sheikh Younis Mohammed al-Mauretani. In this document sent to Bin Laden, Al-Mauretani outlines the plans of a Europe-Plot, describing attacks on European economic targets and thereby harming Western economy in general. Al-Mauretani lists numerous countries which should be attacked by Al-Qaida – one of them is Germany.
The existence of this strategy paper of a Jihad against European economy – which is confirmed by German counter-terrorism officials – seems to underline the claims of two German Jihadi terrorists which were arrested in 2010. Rami Makanesi of Frankfurt and Ahmed Wali Siddiqi of Hamburg, both of whom had traveled to Pakistani tribal areas of Waziristan in 2009 to receive terrorist training, spoke about a Al-Qaida plot led by Al-Mauretani.
According to Makanesi and Siddiqi Sheikh al-Mauretani was traveling around the Waziristan villages in summer 2009 to recruit European Jihadis for a big operation. “What we are planning, not even the devil has in mind”, al-Mauretani allegedly told the German Jihadis. Bin Laden himself was instructed by al-Mauretani about the plot and had already approved it, promising the necessary financial support.
Makanesi´s and Siddiqi´s assertions were in part the reason why German authorities raised the terrorist threat level in November 2010. Interior Ministry released a statement saying the threat of a terrorist attack is imminent.
The fact that US troops indeed found a plot description by Al-Mauretani in Bin Laden´s house in Abbottabad now confirms the Al-Qaida leader´s involvement in the planning of a large-scale attack in several European countries including Germany.
Another document found in Abbottabad is even more worrying. According to my information a handwritten letter by Osama Bin Laden was found which could prove a direct link between the Al-Qaida leader and a terrorist cell based in Germany. In this letter Bin Laden writes about brothers stationed in Europa – naming Abdeladim el-K..
El-K., a 29 year-old Moroccan national, was arrested in Germany on April 29th, a few days before Bin Laden was killed in Pakistan. He is suspected of being the head of the so-called “Düsseldorf-Zelle”, a three-men group of Jihadi terrorists planning to carry out attacks in Germany. El-K. who lived and studied in Germany had traveled to Waziristan in early 2010 and received training at a Al-Qaida camp where he came in contact with Sheikh Younis al-Mauretani.
Back in Germany El-K. recruited fellow Moroccan Jamil S. and German-Iranian Amid C.. The three men formed an Al-Qaida cell which was tasked by Al-Qaida´s commander Atiyattullah al-Libi to strike Germany. El-K. tried to contact Atiyattullah via the internet in the months leading to his arrest – but he was not able to reach the Waziristan-based terrorist.
Since November 2010 German counter-terrorism officials were hunting for a “Moroccan cell” in Germany. German Jihadi terrorist Emrah E. living in Waziristan had called German police in October and told them he wants to surrender. He also spoke about Al-Qaida´s plans to attack the country. He said he knew of a Moroccan cell already in Germany, ready to strike even the parliament building in Berlin.
Finally, earlier this year and with the help of Moroccan and American intelligence, authorities were able to identity Abdeladim el-K. as a potential terrorist cell leader. They began monitoring him. When El-K. was visiting several internet cafés in one day, acting very carefully, they decided to wiretap his phones and infiltrate his computers.
In April El-K. and his Jihadi colleagues talked about a plan to build bombs, discussing the possible targets. German police intervened. On April 29 El-K., Jamil S. and Amid C. were arrested.
Question now is: Why did Bin Laden mention the “Düsseldorf-Cell” leader by name in a letter written in his Abbottabad hideout? Only logical explanation is that Osama Bin Laden knew about the people his commanders had recruited and trained in Waziristan. He must have known about Europe based cells and was even informed about the men´s names.
A copy of the Bin Laden letter was allegedly given to European intelligence agencies to identify other possible Al-Qaida terrorists living in Western Europe. German police would not confirm or deny the existence of such a letter mentioning Abdeladim el-K..
All in all, the Abbottabad treasure trove links the bits and pieces of a terror plot a few captured Jihadis and phone calls shed light on in 2010 and shows how much the Al-Qaida leadership was involved in the future terrorist campaigns.