Schlagwort-Archive: fight

Gastbeitrag – „Thanks to God, I hit almost every shot“

by Guy Van Vlierden

„Two years ago I published an article in ‚Het Laatste Nieuws‘, the largest daily newspaper in Belgium, based upon an e-mail conversation with the Tunisian born Moez Garsallaoui. He is married to the well known Belgian-Moroccan ‚passionaria of internet jihad‘ Malika El-Aroud, and he left Brussels in 2007 to join the Taliban in the border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Because my article only was published in Dutch, and Garsallaoui apparently grew in importance since then, I thought it could be useful for a broader audience to learn what he told.

It was in the summer of 2009 I managed to get in touch with Garsallaoui through the French speaking internet forum ‚Ansar Al-Haqq‘. It took a few months and several messages back and forth via two different e-mail addresses – one bearing his own name, the other pretending to be that of a spokesman, calling himself ‚Seif Allah Ibn Haritha‘ – to obtain a full interview. Before that, Garsallaoui already wrote me that he had also Dutch speaking people around him – quite interesting for me, but he didn’t want to give more details – and that he had not met his Belgian-Moroccan comrade Hicham Bouhali Zriouil, a former taxi driver from Brussels who also went fighting with the Taliban, for more than a year and a half. „But according to my information he is well“, I was told at that point. He also sent me a picture – „an old one“, he wrote – of himself in combat. Later, he put that same picture on his profile at ‚Ansar Al-Haqq‘. Garsallaoui’s final response in Arabic was signed: „The servant of the Jihad and the Mujahideen, Al-Kayrawani Moezeddine“. What follows is a rough translation to English of my questions and his answers – as litterally as possible.

Is it true that you are living in the border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan?

Currently I am staying in Afghanistan near the Pakistan border. I can’t give the exact location for security reasons. Inside Pakistan, in the rugged mountain regions, the Pashtun tribes are all on the side of the Jihad in Afghanistan. And support for the Jihad does not only come from them, but also from other regions of Pakistan, India and Uzbekistan, and many countries in Asia. Even the Chinese muslims are fighting the forces of NATO in that area.

Can you describe what you are doing there?

I left my home and family for the sake of Jihad for God. What I’m currently doing in Afghanistan, is fighting the forces of NATO alongside my brothers, the taliban. We offer them the help they demand us, and together with them we organize offensive operations against the centers of the US armed forces, their allies, and the collaborationist Afghan army. Previously, the military operations more or less ceased during winter. But now, with the grace of God, thanks to the growing popular support for the Jihad, the military activity of the taliban has become much easier in the towns and villages. So nowadays we are very busy in this time of year too.

Is it correct that you have already killed American soldiers and you’re proud of that?

As I have said, I left my home just for the sake of Jihad, and that means killing the enemy. During the execution of military operations it is logical to kill and injure your enemies, just as there are brothers who have already become martyrs. This is confirmed by what the high and mighty God says in His book: „God hath purchased of the believers their persons and their goods; for theirs is the garden. They fight in His cause, and slay and are slain.“

The killing of American soldiers, or others who have come to the countries of Islam to colonize, is not a moral crime for which we are ashamed. On the contrary, by killing them we come closer to God and that makes us proud. The companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) are our models. I praise God because thanks to Him I hit almost every shot. Very often we got the message that some of them were slain or wounded. This made or fighters and the majority of the population happy.

What do you think about the arrest of your like-mindeds in Belgium and other European countries, included your wife Malika El-Aroud?

The arrest of a number of Muslims in Europe – some of which I previously knew, and others not – is not an amazing act from the European countries. They are afraid. The reason is that they are partners of America in it’s crimes against Muslims. But what me struck in these arrests is the degree to which they were accompanied by lies and forgery. In Belgium, for example, some security officers said that there were preparations for a suicide operation. Some of them talked about the possibility that European leaders were targeted on the day their summit began. I think that is an exaggeration and a deliberate inflation of the facts by the known intelligence services. The aim is to scare the public in order to mobilize support for the continuation of the organized killing of our sons and brothers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Many people from Europe and other places come to this territory. Some are staying and are steadfast in the struggle and endure the harsh conditions. Others cannot and return to whence they came. I myself was not aware that the brothers had returned to Europe and I do not know why they did. But I am sure that their arrest was accompanied by a campaign of lies and fabrications that implied me too. CNN was the forerunner in spreading these lies. The station claims that I was involved in a terrorist plot that aimed in 2006 to blow up seven aircraft in the air. That’s just laughable.

The arrest of my wife is one of the great crimes of the Belgian government. Especially because my wife has nothing to do with this case, except that she is my wife. I’ve never allowed her to participate in actions that could endanger her. It is true that she is a courageous woman who likes to read and write and spread her opinion, but that is her legal right since you claim it is the right of every citizen in your country. Why then these false allegations?

The Belgian Government had enough of the opinions that my wife wrote down in her book and spreaded over the Internet. It could not prosecute her for her opinions and her ideas, nor change the laws that protect freedom of expression. For that would be in contradiction with the principles on which the state is based. It found nothing else than to invent things and false accusations. I challenge them to show a valid proof that my wife is guilty of any terrorist act, as they claim. She is currently a full year in prison. That is very long and a great injustice. Every extra day that she in imprisoned, I feel more humiliated. This is not only my feeling, but what countless people feel. My wife is my queen. Every day, no every hour that she spends in prison, I find nothing that can replace her, how expensive it might be or how valuable it might be for the people.

Do you have feelings of hate and revenge towards the Belgian people, and do you support violent actions on Belgian soil?

As I have said, my feeling is one of injustice. Those who are unjustly treated, need to free themselves from the injustice in order to return to their natural state. I urge no action against the Belgians. Here in Afghanistan we are under the direct guidance of a Taliban commander, and it is only with his consent we may fight somebody or reconcile us with someone, because he is responsible for this. But the Belgian involvement in provocative acts against Muslims can lead to reactions. Just as the presence of the NATO headquarters on Belgian territory is considered sufficient reason by some to consider an attack.

Therefore it would be better that Belgium and the western countries in general make an end to the unjust treatment of Muslims on their soil, and that they forbid to provoke Islam, the shrines and prophets of the Muslims. Therefore it would also be better that they take the intiative to stop their unjust wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, so that they will get full security and do not have to fear actions on their territories.

Is your participation in Jihad not a proof that European authorities are right in their assertion that you and your wife used your internet forums to recruit young European muslims to fight?

My participation in Jihad is not a crime and should not be considered as such. Since the beginning of history it is a legitimate right in human morality. And in our religion it is even a duty. If we do not comply to this, we are regarded as guilty and disobedient. The actions related to this, such as calling and encouraging people to fulfill this duty, are not bad things we have to hide of fear to carry them out.

About the Internet sites, I managed two sites. A site in Arabic that was closed several times by the Swiss authorities and another site in French that I closed myself a few months ago. Both sites were visited by people with Jihadi ideas. We exchanged news and intelligence about the subject. In Switzerland, me and my wife were tried because of these two sites. I would like to point out that it was me who runned the websites and had direct responsibility for it. My wife only posted her opinions like other users did. She was not aware of my preparations to go to Afghanistan, nor other details on this topic. She only knew a few days in advance that I would leave to Turkey. Hence it is madness to connect my wife with recruitment operations or organizing the fight. Her arrest and conviction for acts she did not commit and had no complicity in, is a serious offense.

Would you like to return some day to Belgium or another European country, or do you prefer to stay were you are?

I lived in Switzerland, but I do not want to return to that country, nor elsewhere in Europe. I hope I will never be forced to do that.

Do you have a message for the people in Belgium and Europe, whether they are muslim or not?

We always hope that other nations – including Belgium – will study Islam and convert. It is always our duty to remind them to that. But if it would be too difficult for some to convert to Islam, we say to them: stop harming Muslims and stop with treating them unfair. And do not help the ones who inflict unjustice. Because injustice is bringing the downfall of he who commits it. For example, within a few days there will be a meeting in Brussels, where European countries will decide to send thousands of soldiers to Afghanistan to cover the shortage of NATO troops here. The European people should counter this and express a strong opposition to this if they are really peaceful. Even if the peoples of Europe do not care about the safety of the oppressed people, then they should at least spare the blood and souls of their own sons. Because when they come to us, they can only expect to manslaughter. Increasing the number of troops of the alliance will give us a greater chance of taking a greater number of them.

My advice to Muslims in Belgium and other countries would be to leave. I remind them that we are in a state of war with them. Because they sent their soldiers to kill our brothers and sisters here. I also remind them that the Mujahidin do not carry any responsibility for what may happen to them in those countries.

Guy Van Vlierden is a journalist for the Belgian newspaper ‚Het Laatste Nieuws‘

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.

Pictures Show Al-Shabaab´s Talibanesque Rule

by Florian Flade

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North of the Somali capital Mogadishu, the Islamists of Al-Shabaab recently executed two men in public. 38 year-old Abdullah Haji Mohammed was found guilty the Al-Shabaab Sharia court of spying for the Somali government. He allegedly was paid up to US-$ 120 per month for providing the „apostate government“, which Al-Shabaab is fighting, with information about the terrorist group.

The second victim of the Al-Shabaab crime punishment was Abdul Nasser Hussain, 26 years old, who was sentenced to death because of „multiple murders“ he confessed to.

Al-Shabaab fighters shot the two men in front of a large crowd and later released pictures of the public execution on the Internet. The killing took place as the Somali government claimed it had defeated Al-Shabaab in recent clashes in Mogadishu and is now in control of most parts of the city. Just outside of Mogadishu, Al-Shabaab´s Talibanesque rule is still in place.