Tag Archives: Rami Makanesi

The Day Al-Qaida Fired Bekkay Harrach

by Florian Flade

Bekkay Harrach aka “Abu Talha al Almani” – Terrorist threats in the name of Al-Qaida

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.

Pakistan Captures Al-Qaida Operative Sheikh Younis al-Mauretani

by Florian Flade

He is one of Al-Qaida´s most shadowy and mysterious figures in the Pakistani tribal areas – Sheikh Younis Mohammed al-Mauretani.

Pakistan´s military forces today announced Al-Mauretani´s arrest in a written statement, saying the North African Al-Qaida operative was captured in the city of Quetta close to the Afghan border. Along with al-Mauretani two other Arab Al-Qaida members, named Abdul Ghaffar Al Shami (Bachar Chama) and Messara Al Shami (Mujahid Amino) were arrested. No Details were given on these two men.

Sheikh Younis al-Mauretani was labeled Al-Qaida´s Chief of External Operations by the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI, holding one of the most important positions within the terrorist network. “He was planning to target United States economic interests including gas/oil pipelines, power generating dams, and strike ships/oil tankers through explosive laden speed boats in International waters”, the Pakistani ISI claims in a statement. Cooperation with the CIA led to the arrest of Al-Mauretani, the statement further explains.

Counter-terrorism officials in the USA and Pakistan believe al-Mauretani was in direct contact with Bin Laden until US Navy SEALs killed the Al-Qaida leader in May. Inside the Abbottabad compound were Bin Laden was hiding, documents were found which are confirming that al-Mauretani was the mastermind behind a 2010 terrorist plot to target European economy. A strategy paper written by Al-Mauretani suggested to hit especially economic targets in the West to harm the USA and Europe. From what is known it seems Bin Laden approved this plan and promised the financing of the terror attacks.

Most of what is known about Al-Mauretani was revealed during the interrogation of two German terror suspects arrested last year. Ahmad Wali Siddiqi and Rami Makanesi from Hamburg had traveled to the Waziristan terrorist training camps in March 2009. Both of them met Al-Mauretani in early 2010 when the Al-Qaida operative was searching for Western recruits. “Al-Qaida´s No.3 – Foreign Minister” – Al-Mauretani introduced himself to the Jihadis from Germany.

Makanesi describes al-Mauretani as a skinny, tall person with a calm manner, well-spoken and intelligent. “What we have are planning, not even the devil has in mind”, al-Mauretani had told the German terrorists in Waziristan according to Makanesi and Siddiqi. He later outlined his “Europe Plot” to them, telling them about his idea of striking economic targets in various European countries.

In January or February 2010 Sheikh al-Mauretani had met another German Jihadi who arrived at the Al-Qaida training camps – Abdelkarim el-K., a Moroccan who lived and studied in Düsseldorf. After returning to Germany El-K. formed a terrorist cell he became the leader of. While the group planned to obtain or produce explosives El-K. tried to contact the Al-Qaida commanders in Waziristan for advice. One of the people he tried to contact but could not reach was none other than Al-Mauretani.

In addition to what Makanesi and Siddiqi told German and American intelligence most information available on al-Mauretani is believed to be rumors and unconfirmed reports by Arab intelligence agencies. Some sources say the Mauretanian Al-Qaida suspect had studied in Egypt and later left the country to join Bin Laden in Afghanistan. Others say al-Mauretani lived in Saudi-Arabia before coming to Waziristan and that he owned a football club there.

From Osama with Love – Bin Laden´s Letter to Germany

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.