by Florian Flade
He looked a bit undressed in his suite and tie in front of a red curtain, but his message was a chilling one: Germany is about to experience bloody terror by Al-Qaida if the people choose to vote for a new government which is still committed to the Afghanistan engagement of the German military – the September 2009 video message by German Al-Qaida terrorist Bekkay Harrach.
The video posted on the internet on September 18 was Harrach´s second terror threat. In January 2009 he appeared for the first time in a video produced by Al-Qaida´s As-Sahab Media titled “Das Rettungspaket für Al-Qaida”. Harrach aka “Abu Talha the German” threatened terror attacks in Germany after the September 2009 elections – the first direct warning to Germany coming from Al-Qaida.
Harrach´s second message, released only a few days before the parliamentary elections, caused German counter-terrorism officials to rise the threat level drastically. Again the German-Moroccan from Bonn reminded the German public of Al-Qaida´s promise. For those inside the intelligence community there was no doubt: Al-Qaida had set sights on Germany.
What seemed to be a coordinated Al-Qaida campaign against Germany was in fact a lonesome plan by Harrach to strike fear in his old home country. German magazine SPIEGEL reports that Bekkay Harrach who acted as Al-Qaida´s official German spokesman, was dismissed by the terrorist network because of the September 2009 video message. The video was not authorized by Al-Qaida nor was it recorded and produced by it´s official propaganda wing “As-Sahab Media”.
The video did not bear any official label – it had allegedly been produced and released by Al-Fajr Media, Jihadi propaganda outlet who releases video, audio and written statements on behalf of several Jihadi groups.
During interrogation two German Jihadis, Rami Makanesi and Ahmad W. Siddiqi, told German intelligence that Al-Qaida was so angry about Harrach´s independent action in the name of the organization that he was fired by Al-Qaida´s leadership in Waziristan. Harrach had to leave the organization in late 2009, Makanesi and Siddiqi told the interrogators.
Shortly after the September 2009 threat video was posted on the internet some experts doubted the authenticity of it. Why did Harrach appear in a Al-Qaida video dressed in the same outfit US-President Barack Obama wore during his Cairo speech? Never before had an Al-Qaida official appeared in video dressed up like a Western politician. And why was there no official editing done to the video by “As-Sahab Media”?
It seems reasonable to say Harrach most likely was hoping for Islamist sympathizers in Germany to act on their own after the Al-Qaida threat. Eventhough he urged followers to hold any terrorist attacks and to wait till Al-Qaida members would begin the bloody campaign against Germany, he propbably knew that no such terrorist cells existed in the country. He was hoping for the “lone wolves” to be inspired by his message.
None of them acted, no terrorist attack was carried out during or in the weeks after the 2009 election in Germany. Bekkay Harrach´s promise in the name of Al-Qaida was not fullfilled. He himself will not be able to fullfill it himself either – Harrach, who had traveled to Pakistan in 2007 and joined Al-Qaida, was killed in late summer 2010 during an assault attack on US military base Bagram in southern Afghanistan.