Schlagwort-Archive: Steindamm

Why Hamburg Matters – Jihad Made in Germany

by Florian Flade

Nine years after the Hamburg-Cell of Mohammed Atta, Ziad Jarrah and Ramzi Binalshibh took part in the biggest terror attack in modern history, the traces of a new al-Qaeda plot once again lead to the German coastal city, into the very same mosque where Atta and the other hijackers of 9/11 worshipped and met.

A group of Jihadi supporters, friends and helpers of the 9/11 terrorists, made their way into the schools of terror in the mountains of Northwest Pakistan. While some are back in Germany, living freely without charges, others were arrested and interrogated by the CIA. What they told their captors alarmed security services around the world and let to the first Europe-wide terror alert – Did a new generation of Hamburg´s al-Qaeda inspire the next 9/11 – scale terror plot?

The St.Georg suburb of Hamburg City is not a very likeable place. Dirty bars, adult entertainment shops, table dance bars, gyms, martial arts training centers, gambling halls and cheap restaurants offering foreign food of all sorts, shape the look of the neighborhood. Only a few hundred meters away from Hamburg´s main train station, prostitutes, drug dealers and criminals roam the streets almost every night.

Yet, in one of the old unobtrusive buildings, Steindamm No. 103, people met and sticked to a lifestyle without all the sin one can witness out on the streets. Mostly men, few older than 30, came to the mosque, centered on the first and second floor, right next to a Vietnamese restaurant and a bodybuilding center. The majority of the faithful worshippers were of immigrant background, others were repents trading their former life of crime, drugs and party for the full-time service to Allah and his prophet.

The Muslim community of the Steindamm mosque – Africans, Bosnians, Russians, Arabs, Turks, Iranians, Afghans, Pakistanis, white converts – shared the same ultraconservative Salafi ideology, following a very strict interpretation of Quran and Sunnah.
During Friday prayers, the elderly sat in the front row, right next to the Imam giving Khutba lectures. The younger worshippers filled the prayer room, while women were separated in another part of the building. Sermons were given in Arabic and German.

Masjid Taiba (formally Al Quds Mosque, renamed in 2008) was without any doubt the epic center of the fundamentalist Islamist community in Hamburg, a regular meeting place for those advocating and supporting violent jihad in Iraq, Afghanistan and even in the West.
Mohammed Atta, Ziad Jarrah and other hijackers of the 9/11 attacks were visitors of the Hamburg mosque, private home videos show the al-Qaeda terrorists celebrating the wedding of one of them – Said Bahaji – in the rooms of the former Al Quds Mosque.

After 9/11 intelligence agencies from around the world became interested in this mysterious worship place, investigating those who attend sermons at Steindamm No.103. Atta and his comrades died crashing passenger planes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field – those who prayed and sang songs with the hijackers, and knew of their intention were still freely roaming the streets of Hamburg.

Mamoun Darkazanli is one of them. Known as „Abu Ilyas“ by the Masjid Taiba visitors, he was a leading Imam, preaching in Arabic, often holding a piece of paper or the Quran in one hand. Darkazanli had a leading role in supporting the 9/11 cell, his name appeared on Interpol lists of wanted terrorists, even the CIA planned to assassinate him. Hamburg officials who were monitoring him closely, did not arrest the Moroccan. Until the day Masjid Taiba was closed, Mamoun Darkazanli preached inside the Salafi temple.

Out of the 200 worshippers attending his Friday prayers in the years after 9/11, Germany´s intelligence estimated around fifty men (called „Group of 50“) belonged to the radical core promoting an Anti-Western, al-Qaeda-style version of Islam. They were regarded as supporters of Jihad but not necessary as potential terrorists themselves.

Police placed microphones inside Masjid Taiba and wiretapped suspects, recorded their travel movements. All these measures were known by the men and women visiting the mosque. Instead of being scared or stopping radical talks, they felt kind of proud. Being observed and monitored – in their view – was a sign of being important, eventhough the dozens of other mosques in Hamburg criticized the extremist Salafi brothers from St.Georg suburb.

Everybody knew the eyes of German intelligence were on the mosque. When computers were introduced in the common room of Masjid Taiba, some teenagers began downloading jihadi videos. Quickly the mosque leadership moved in, stopping them from getting involved in illegal activities – they were keen on appearing conservative, even radical, but clean from any terrorist activities.

The main task for Hamburg´s security officials regarding the Steindamm´s mosque was outlined quite clear: Never again should Hamburg become the center of global Jihad, a fertile breeding ground for the next 9/11-cell. As a final step, Hamburg officials moved in in early August and closed Taiba Mosque. Several computers, hard-drives, DVDs, documents and cash were confiscated by the police. No charges have been filed yet as shutting up the Taiba place was the priority.

Those familiar with the story of 9/11 ask: Why did it take so long for the German authorities to close the radical mosque? Why were Islamist preachers allowed to continue their brainwashing behind closed doors in the very same rooms Mohammed Atta spread his dangerous thoughts?

With the full knowledge of German security officials, a small group of radical Muslims formed in the orbit of Taiba Mosque by 2008. Among them were men who had met Mohammed Atta personally and who are good friends with the 9/11 helpers Mounir al-Motassadeq and Said Bahaji, both former residents of Hamburg.

The leading figure of this group was Rami M., a former low-profile criminal of Syrian descent born in the city of Frankfurt. He had a police crime record for violating the speed limit, possession of drugs and other charges, before he turned to radical Islam, becoming a faithful follower of the Salafi ideology. Rami M. moved from Frankfurt to Hamburg because of a woman, he got in contact with via internet chat forums.

In the North German coastal town M. rounded up about a dozen other Islamists, most of them in their twenties, the oldest one 55 of age. What these friends shared was not only the belief that Jihad against non-believers was an individual duty to every Muslim but also the intense admiration of the 9/11-hijackers.

On the day of the closing of Masjid Taiba, German police said a form of tourism had been established in recent years with Islamists coming from other parts of Europe and even the Middle East, to worship at the mosque. „It had become a form of sightseeing and telling people back home „I prayed in the mosque in which Atta prayed“, an Hamburg intelligence official said.

In 2008, Rami M. and his friends met regularly to chat about politics, the situation of the Muslim Ummah, about Iraq, Afghanistan and the mujahideen.
Soon, in winter 2008, the conclusion of the talks was „we have to act“.

They found a role model in two German nationals from Bonn, Mounir and Yassin C., brothers of Moroccan origin who had joined the militant group „Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan“ (IMU) in Pakistan years ago. Yassin and Mounir were turned into IMU´s propaganda workhorses, appearing in several videos on the internet, calling for German Muslims to come to Waziristan and live a Prophet-Lifestyle.

As the willingness of the Taiba friends grew to leave the sinful „bilad ul kufr“, the land of the unbelievers, German security services had the men on their radar. Rami M. and the others were considered dangerous, not an imminent threat, but definitely further radicalized then the average Islamists of Taiba Mosque.

One of Rami M.´s comrades was the young Iranian Shahab D. Born in 1983 in Iran, he had left the country in 1994 with his parents, fleeing the effects of the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s. They settled in Hamburg, and Shahab grew up as an average immigrant child of Muslim background, joining sports clubs, listening to Rap music in his teenage years.

It was years after after 9/11, when Shahab D., influenced by Muslim friends, entered Taiba Mosque. Fascinated by the strict Salafi-Islam, the Iranian soon attended Friday prayers regularly. In 2007 or 2008, Shahab, a Shiite by family background, converted. A young Persian refugee turned into a fundamentalist Salafi in the middle of a modern German city. Shahab D. had become „Salman the Persian“.  His parents  are still convinced their son was „driven into extremism by those fanatics“.

In 2008, Shahab D. married his girlfriend, a now 23 year-old dental student, the daughter of a German woman and a Muslim West-African. The couple embraced the ultraconservative Islamic lifestyle, met with the men and women of Taiba Mosque and further radicalized in the period of only a few months.

During his phase of becoming a strict Salafi, Shahab D. met a man, who´s influence on him was fatal – Ahmad Wali S.
The 36 year-old Afghan was born in Kabul into a family of doctors, diplomats, engineers and lawyers. He fled Afghanistan with his family and lived a refugee´s life in India until he and his older brother immigrated to Hamburg in the 1990s. Ahmad Wali S. was granted German citizenship in 2001.

Ahmad´s father was a pilot, flying airplanes in Afghanistan for decades, even training pilots on how to fly huge carrier aircrafts. When the parents joined their two sons in Hamburg, Ahmad´s father was unable to get employed until today.

In Hamburg, Ahmad Wali S. was known as a smart student, dreaming of attending University, interested in cars, technology and computer sciences. But somehow he did not manage to graduate and had to make money as a pizza deliverer. Later, Ahmad S. got a job in a cleaning service company, working at Hamburg Airport. The father was a respected pilot, his son only cleaned airplanes.

While on vacation in Indonesia, Ahmad S., befriended with Shinta P., an Indonesian woman who was willing to marry the German-Afghan. After Ahmad received the German citizenship, he brought his future wife to Hamburg. Only there Shinta P. started wearing the headscarf and became a devoted Muslima. She never learned German, only talked to Ahmad in English for years, barely leaving the apartment.

Friends and family describe Ahmad as a faithful Muslim during the time of 9/11, but not as fanatic. He was a friend of the Hamburg-Cell supporter Mounir al-Motassadeq, visited him in prison. Together with his wife and al-Motassadeq, Ahmad S. traveled to Morocco in summer 2002. There he met the Jihadi preacher Sheikh Mohammad al-Fasasi, who had given lectures in the Hamburg Taiba Mosque in 2000 and was sentenced to 30 years in prison for involvement in the Cassablanca terror attacks.

Two years later, Ahmad S. started a second relationship with a woman from Eastern Europe, a work colleague he met at the airport. The two fell in love and once went on vacation to Turkey. Shinta, the Indonesian wife tolerated the second woman in Ahmad´s life, even accepting her husband moving into the other woman´s apartment.

With thousands of Euros in pay-off, Ahmad S. quit his job at the airport cleaning company in 2006. He and his new girlfriend opened a bakery in Hamburg – a business that failed.

A cousin borrowed Ahmad money, so he could start a new business – a travel agency – in early 2008 in Hamburg-St.Georg, the very same city district where the Taiba Mosque was located. Only nine months later, Ahmad S.´s business failed again.

Feeling inferior and in a desperate financial situation the German-Afghan sought refuge in his religion. Ahmad S. ended the relationship with his girlfriend, begged his wife to return to him. He grew a beard, banned music, movies and all sinful things from his life and even started to convince Non-Muslims in his neighborhood to accept Islam.

The friendship to the other fundamentalist Salafis of Taiba Mosque grew stronger.

When Rami M., Shahab D. and Ahmad Wali S. told the others in Taiba Mosque they were keen on fighting Jihad in Afghanistan, some of the men expressed concerns, asking „How to get their?“, „Police is monitoring us“ and „What route to choose?“. The one giving the answers was a Frenchman, born in Paris, brought up in Algeria – Naamen M.

He became the driving force to the Hamburg Jihadi travel trip, although he was already in the spotlight of the German Anti-Terror investigators.
Naamen M. had dual French and Algerian citizenship, and first appeared on the track record of the police in 2003 as a Jihad supporter and possible recruiter for suicide bombers sent from Europe to Iraq. Even he himself tried to join the fight against US forces in Iraq, but was arrested in Syria and sent back to Germany.

M. was experienced in trafficking people across national borders, he had all the necessary connections and was himself willing to become a Mujahed in Waziristan. The French-Algerian had lived in the North African homeland of his ancestors till 1992 when he moved to Hamburg, where he married the daughter of Moroccan Sheikh Mohammad al-Fasasi and fostered two children.Algerian security forces arrested Naamen´s father and one brother. Both of them „disappeared“ in the dungeons of the Algerian regime during the 1990s. Another brother joined the Islamist insurgency and was killed by Algerian military in 1996.

Naamen M. traveled from Hamburg to Algeria in January 2006, and was also arrested and held without charges for several months, allegedly being tortured by police and intelligence agents. Finally he was allowed to return to Hamburg, telling friends at Taiba Mosque about his experience in the Algerian prisons.

Naamen M., Rami M., Ahmad Wali S. and Shahab D. began meeting regularly at Ahmad S.´s place, discussing on how to realize their dream of fighting the „kuffar“ in Afghanistan. One Afghan they knew, had good contacts to region, making him a prime source for establishing the logistics.

It was Kabul-born Assadullah M., a 55 year-old Islamists, who came to Germany in the 1970s and made a number of trips to Pakistan very year. He became the oldest member of the Hamburg Jihadi tourist group and the first to leave Germany in early 2009. On February 4th 2009, Assadullah M. flew to Pakistan and since then disappeared. Intelligence services and police investigators are desperate to find out if he joined the terror groups of Waziristan or if he was even ready for Jihad. Others clearly were.

Ahmad Wali S., the pilot son, entered a travel agency in Hamburg´s main train station on March 2th 2009, and bought One-Way tickets to Pakistan for himself, his wife, his 22 year-old brother Sulayman, Shahab D. and his wife. Ahmad S. paid the 4155 Euro in cash, telling the staff in the travel agency, his brother was about to marry in Pakistan. The travel agency provided him with the necessary visas for the trip.

Two days later, in the middle of the night, two men and two women left Ahmad S.´s flat in Hamburg. German intelligence was stationed outside the house, filming the tourist group walking to the car packed with heavy luggage with hidden surveillance cameras. Ahmad S., Shahab D. and their wives, picking up Ahmad´s younger brother, drove 460 kilometres to Frankfurt am Main.

The following day Ahmad S.´s mother, who lived in the building right next to her son, noticed Sulayman´s suitcase was gone. She dialed his mobile phone. „I travel to Afghanistan with Ahmad“, Sulayman said and rang up.

Fearing their sons would join terrorist gangs in Pakistan, the parents contacted a friend in Hanover who called the police. Once the police was alarmed a group of Islamists was on their way to Waziristan, officers were sent to the Frankfurt Airport to preventing them from leaving the country. They failed because they waited at the wrong departure gate – Ahmad, Sulayman, Shahab and the women had boarded a different plane, a Qatar Airways flight from Doha to Peshawar, where the group arrived on March 5th at 3 a.m..

The very same day, Rami M. and Naamen M.´s journey started. Naamen told his wife, he was about to make a pilgrimage to Saudi-Arabia. Instead, the two friends traveled to Pakistan via Turkey and Iranian Zahedan.

Two other members of the Taiba Mosque group, were Non-Arab and Non-Turkish white converts. Michael W., born 1985 in Kazakhstan, converted to Islam in his high school time in Germany, while the other convert, Alexander J., born 1980 in Chechnya, embraced the new faith in prison, serving a sentence on drug charges.

Both German citizens decided to travel to Pakistan via Austria, avoiding German intel monitoring. Alexander J. and Michael W. drove from Hamburg to Vienna on March 9th 2009, only to be questioned at the airport by Austrian authorities about the motives for their trip. „Vacation“, was the answer given by one of the two, „buying carpets“, said the other one.

Police became suspicious and searched the luggage of the strange Hamburg tourists. What they found was nothing vacation-like. Two documents indicated the converts were on their way fighting jihad.
„How To Behave in Jihad“ was the title of one of the papers. The other document was an Arabic reference letter written by „Ibrahim the Lebanese“ from Hamburg, a sort of entry ticket to the terror camps.

Indications were overwhelming, nevertheless Austrian airport security allowed the convert Salafis to board a Qatar Airways plane taking them from Vienna via Doha to Karachi. Upon the arrival, Pakistani police arrested Alexander J. and Michael W., interrogated them in prison before sending both back to Germany.

Mohammad M., the last one of the Taiba Mosque friends, was the only one who was arrested even prior to departing. German police approached the Iranian at Frankfurt Airport on March 9th and confiscated his passport.

Those who made it to Pakistan, met in Mir Ali, a known terrorist hub in Pakistani North Waziristan. The unusual tourist group from Hamburg – Ahmad S., Sulayman S., Shahab D., Naamen M., Rami M. and the two Jihadi wives – got in contact with militant groups in the tribal areas. Most of them joined the „Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan“ (IMU) and were sent immediately to the training camps for military courses because all of them lacked experienced in shooting guns or guerilla tactics.

Shahab D., the Iranian Shiite convert, appeared in an IMU-propaganda video in October 2009 for the first time, posing  as „Abu Askar“ with a huge black sword. „We have only left Germany and our parents, to bring victory to this religion!“, Shahab D. said in front of the camera, later stating there were numerous nationalities of Mujahideen fighting in Waziristan – „There are brothers from all over the world, from Tunesien, from Tajikistan, from Uzbekistan, from China, from Russia, from Turkey, from Europe and from Iran in the battle trenches“.

In a eulogy message for a German militant shot dead by Pakistani forces in September 2009, Shahab D. was again featured talking about his martyred friend and the virtue of Jihad.

Life in Waziristan was harder then the Hamburg-Islamists had thought. No running water, no electricity, food shortage, scorpions and snakes, sometimes no shower for days. The summer was burning hot, winter was freezing cold in the shacks of Waziristan. In addition, the CIA drones and Pakistani military operations took a high toll on the militants.

In Germany investigators were following the tracks of the Hamburg Jihadis, reading the e-mails they sent back home, wiretapping their calls to family and friends. „You know, Mom, our brothers are that brave, the American soldiers are even wearing diapers. They shit themselves when they see us. We shoot at their asses“ – Ahmad Wali S. told his mother in a phone call late December 2009, „Mom, the Americans are even rapping old men.“

The previous month, in November, Ahmad´s father came to visit his two sons in Waziristan, trying to convince them to return to Hamburg, return to safety and give up the idea of Jihad. He failed in the beginning, but in December 2009, Ahmad´s younger brother Sulayman S., abandoned a Mujahid´s life in Waziristan and traveled back to Germany. Sulayman was arrested at Frankfurt Airport on December 18th. He remained in custody for about a month, telling police about his time in the terror camps.

On January 6th 2010, Ahmad Wali S., called his parents – and German intelligence was listening again: „I have chosen the right path. I want everything to be correct on the day of judgement. I want my family to go to paradise. Some day, Mom, you will say: Well done, my son!“ Life in Germany is bad, S. explained, „You live with gays, lesbians, Jews and the kuffar.“

„My little brother had so much fun here“, Ahmad S. told his mother on the phone a week later, „I told him not to go back.“ The mother responded: „But he is sick. He screams every night.“ Ahmad S. assured Sulayman was happy in Waziristan. „I wish you had come here and had seen for yourself. Mom, wait until we conquer Afghanistan!“

In Waziristan they are no women on the streets, Ahmad S. told his parents, there is no sin, no temptation. In his job, working for multimedia section of IMU, he even got a salary, Ahmad S. claimed. In spring 2010, the calls became desperate, asking for money, saying the situation was difficult due to the US drone attacks.

Rami M., the chubby German-Syrian from Frankfurt, complained about long, rough hikes through the Pakistan-Afghanistan mountains, telling his father in Germany in an e-mail he walked for kilometers with a bazooka on his shoulder. „I want to be a martyr. Probably I will not survive the summer“, Rami M., assured his wife he left in Germany.

Late June, Ahmad S. contacted his sister in Hamburg, telling her he wants to return home and she should arrange an appointment with an psychiatrist for him. Indeed 36 year-old Ahmad S. left Waziristan and went to Afghan capital Kabul where US forces arrested him during a raid in July.
Since that day the Hamburg Islamist is held in custody at US Military Base Bagram, interrogated by the CIA.

What Ahmad S. told the Americans caused US and European security officials to raise the terror alert level in September. He underwent several terror training camps, Ahmad S. said, sent as a fighter of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan to Afghanistan for combat.
In early summer 2010, he told the interrogators, a special meeting took place in the town of Mir Ali, an event to remember the days of 9/11 and the Hamburg-connection. In Mir Ali, Ahmad S., Naamen M. and Shahab D. lived very close together. On that day, S. explained to the Americans in Bagram, he was introduced to a mysterious al-Qaeda figure, a North African spiritual leader called „Sheikh Younis al-Mauritani“. The Sheikh arrived in a Toyota SUV with darkened windows and introduced himself as al-Qaeda´s No.3.

Al-Mauritani convened the Mir Ali meeting and told Ahmad S. and the other Hamburg Jihadis, a special guest was about to arrive. The man who stepped into the hut was none other than Said Bahaji, one of the most wanted man in the world.

Bahaji, born in Germany in 1975, was a close comrade of the Hamburg 9/11 cell, lived in shared flat with Mohammed Atta. Investigators are sure, Bahaji was a main supporter of the al-Qaeda hijackers and knew of their plans. He fled Germany on September 3th 2001 to Karachi, since then disappeared in Pakistan.
Some years back, Bahaji still contacted his wife in Germany regularly via e-mail. That contact has run cold now. Last year, Pakistani troops captured the terrorist safe haven of South Waziristan and found in one of the buildings used by the militants, several ID-documents of European citizens, among them the German passport of Said Bahaji. It is no secret, the 9/11-supporter from Hamburg is alive and lives a terrorist´s life in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

Ahmad S., Naamen M. and Shahab D. met Said Bahaji and Sheikh al-Mauritani to learn the al-Qaeda leadership had a plan for a new 9/11-scale attack – this time attacking numerous European cities. The al-Qaeda Sheikh al-Mauritani told the Germans, he already sent sleeper cells to Italy and France, ready to strike at any time. Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, Ahmad S. was told, had approved the Europe-attacks and provided the needed money. Denmark, the UK, Germany and the Netherlands were also on the list of targets.

Naamen M., Rami M. and Ahmad S. should form the German cell for the upcoming attacks, Sheikh Al-Mauritani said. They shall be dispatched to Germany after receiving special training in Waziristan. In June, Ahmad S. claimed, he and the other Germans were trained for weeks in special courses on how to use encryption software to hide secret messages in e-mails and chat rooms. „Clean e-mail accounts“ were available to organize the logistics for the Europe plot which should be carried out in assault style attacks similar to the terror attack on Mumbai luxury hotels in November 2008.

For the first time, German investigators were allowed to visit Ahmad S., the prime source that revealed al-Qaeda´s major terror plans for Europe, some weeks ago. The Americans regard him as a  very valuable source of intelligence and they are not willing to hand him over to the German colleagues. Ahmad S. will most likely be sent to the U.S. for further questioning.

The German cell of the al-Qaeda plot it seems, is history now. One of its purported members, Rami M., was fed up with the Jihad idea. He called the German embassy in Pakistan on June 15th, asking for new passport documents to return to Germany. An appointment was made for June 21th, 9:30 a.m. in Islamabad and the German officials provided the 25 year-old Islamist with a written statement to leave the tribal areas without getting arrested by Pakistani security forces.

German police feared a suicide bombing carried out by Rami M. (perhaps a „second Abu Dujana al-Khorasani Case“). Pakistani security was alerted hinting them at the German-Syrian who was about to depart Waziristan. Near the town of Bannu, Pakistani troops finally arrested Rami M. on June 21th, wearing a white Burqa, sitting in the back of a car coming from Mir Ali.
After weeks of interrogation by the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI, Rami M. was finally deported to Germany August 26th and is in prison since. His wife in Germany claims Rami was tortured and „tricked“ by German and Pakistani officials.

What the fate of the other friends from Hamburg Masjid Taiba is, remains a mystery. A US drone attacked a building near Mir Ali on October 4th, a house owned by the same Taliban man who was the driver of Rami M.´s car when he was arrested. Up to eight German militants were killed in the missile strikes, witnesses said.
Days after the attack, militant groups from the region reported Shahab D. and at least one other German Jihadi died in the Mir Ali drone attack. German officials received news, among the dead was also Naamen M., and the 20 year-old German-Turk Bünyamin E. of Wuppertal but there is no confirmation for these reports yet.

Connecting the dots and traces left behind by the Taiba Mosque Jihadi tourists, could lead to the assumption, nine years after 9/11, al-Qaeda again reached out to Hamburg Islamists to carry out a major terror attack wave against the West. The radicals were bred behind the doors of the very same mosque that had been the harbor and worship place for Mohammed Atta and his comrades. German authorities acted late, maybe even too late, in closing Masjid Taiba. Were they driven to act after the reports of the arrests of Rami M. and Ahmad S., and the information they provided?

Today the radical Salafis of Masjid Taiba still roam the streets of Hamburg St.Georg, coming together for Friday prayers in small basement rooms and private flats, making it very difficult for police and intelligence to track them and monitor their activities. Once they all gathered in one place, an almost sacred Jihadi temple, under the watchful eye of Anti-Terror investigators. Yet, a small group of hardliners was able to outsmart the hunters, succeeding in living the Jihadi dream, which became a nightmare for a some of them.

Three of the Hamburg Jihadi friends are back in Germany, one is in prison (Rami M.), two are living free without charges (Alexander J. and Michael W.). The two White converts were in contact with Ahmad S. and those living in Waziristan, who shared the stories of war and martyrdom with J. and W.. Michael W. is wearing a white robe on most days, grew a red beard and is described by neighbors as „friendly“ and „nice“. Police list him as an „instigator“ of Jihad – one of 132 living in Germany.

German Newspaper „Stern“ No.41 2010,1518,722196,00.html

German Newspaper SPIEGEL Nr.40 / 2010

German Newspaper SPIEGEL Nr.33 / 2010

Hamburg Jihadi Shahab D. killed in Drone Strike

by Florian Flade

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Almost exactly one year ago Shahab D. appeared for the first time in a propaganda video released by the „Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan“ (IMU). The 27 year-old Iranian was seen sitting in the mountains of Waziristan, holding a huge sword in his hands, praising Jihad and those who left their homeland to fight in Afghanistan.

„The only reason we left Germany and our parents is, for the victory of this religion!“, Shahab D. said in the October 2009 video titled „Advantages of Jihad“. The young Jihadi from Hamburg called himself „Abu Askar“.

Seven months prior to the release of the propaganda message, Shahab D. was living the life of a faithful Muslim in peaceful Hamburg, Northern Germany. When he was eleven years old, Shahab D. and his parents had fled Iran and arrived as asylum seekers in Germany in 1994.
The family settled in Hamburg, Shahab D. grew up as a regular German teenager of Muslim descent. He quickly learned the language and adapted to the culture of his new country.

It was shortly after 9/11, when the Iranian teenager became interested in the radical Muslim community who operated out of Hamburg´s most radical mosque – Masjid al Quds. Here, the Hamburg cell led by Mohammed Atta prayed and met. The hijackers celebrated weddings, attended sermons by an extremist Sheikh from Morocco and found many brothers sharing the same views and wish for Jihad.

Shahab D. visited the Al Quds-Mosque near the main train station, in St.Georg, a rather unpleasant suburb of Hamburg. Born an Irania Shiite, Shahab became interested and more and more drawn into the fundamentalist sect called Salafiyya. The men at the mosque welcomed the young worshipper, invited him to lectures and Ramadan celebrations.

Finally Shahab D. converted – a Shiite Iranian refugee had become a hardline Salafi. He grew his beard, changed the way he dressed, wearing long robes, imitating the Prophet Muhammad as much as possible.

One of the first people to notice how Shahab´s behavior changed and how his radical views increased by the month was his girlfriend, a 23 year-old dental student, the daughter to a West-African Muslim father and German mother. The young couple followed the ultraconservative interpretation of Quran and Sunnah, sticking to all the rules they could find in Salafi scholar texts. In the Hamburg mosque the two celebrated their wedding.

Influenced by his Muslim friends at the Al Quds Mosque – which had changed its name into „Masjid Taiba“ by then – Shahab D. was eager to migrate to a true Islamic country. He wanted to leave Germany, Europe and the West with all its sins and temptations, start a new life under Sharia law in Muslim lands.

Instead of moving to Saudi-Arabia or Yemen, Shahab D. and his wife decided to join militant fighters in the Afghan-Pakistan border region.
Several of Shahab´s friends and fellow worshippers at the Taiba Mosque shared this dream of going for Jihad, they were celebrating the 9/11 hijackers who had worshipped in this mosque, had met in this neighborhood and were close friends to other worshippers still living in Hamburg.

In Spring 2009 decision was made. Shahab D., his wife and three other people from the Masjid Taiba community (among them Afghan Ahmad Wali S. who is the America´s prime source for intel on the Euro-Plot) headed to Pakistan. On board a Qatar Airways flight the five Jihadi-recruits flew from Frankfurt Airport to Doha, Qatar, and then taking a connection flight to Peshawar, Pakistan. That was in March 2009.

Somewhere in Waziristan Shahab D. from Hamburg joined the „Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan“ and attended military courses and learned how to shoot guns, rockets and mortars. By May 2009, he finished terror training and became part of the fighting groups, assaulting Pakistani soldiers and possibly even Nato-troops in neighboring Afghanistan.

„One of the secrets of jihad is this tremendous, intense brotherhood among the Mujahideen“, Shahab D. said in a propaganda tape about his time in Waziristan, „Brothers from various countries side by side in the battle trenches – from Russia, from Morocco, Tunisia, China, Turkey, Europe, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Iran. Allah brought them together.“

One of Shabab´s comrades, the German-Afghan Javad S., died in combat, fighting Pakistani troops in Oktober 2009. Shahab D. recalled seeing S. firing an RPG at the Pakistani soldiers and then getting killed.

Now some credible information leads to suggest Shahab D. himself was killed in the hills of Waziristan. Jihadi sources say, the Hamburg Jihadi embraced „martyrdom“ alongside another German militant and several other foreign fighters, when a missile fired from an unmanned CIA drone hit a house in North Waziristan.

At least two militants of Tajik nationality and the two Germans were killed in the attack which happened near Miranshah. The exact date and location was not known.

If the reports are true – and there is no reason to doubt they are credible – the „Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan“ has lost one of the most valuable propaganda tools. German members of the militant group played a big role in the propaganda releases, drawing even more radicals from Germany to join them.

CNN had quoted the captured Hamburg Jihadi Ahmad Wali S., telling the US interrogators at Bagram prison, his friend Shahab D. was proposed to be a „foot soldier“ in al-Qaeda´s plot to target European cities. This information has never been confirmed.

Back home in Germany, Shahab D.´s mother told reporters a few days ago, her son was „fooled“ and „tricked“ into radical Islam by the extremists of now closed Masjid Taiba. Other sources say Shahab converted to the most radical branch of Islam to distance himself from his very strict father.

Read my article about the Two Killed German Jihadis on WELT Online.

The Hamburg Connection 2.0 – Al Qaeda´s EU Plot

by Florian Flade

Neun Jahre nachdem die Todespiloten um Mohammed Atta die 9/11-Anschläge verübten, steht Hamburg wieder im Focus der Terrorermittlungen. Ein Hamburger Dschihadist verriet al-Qaidas Pläne für Großanschläge in Europa.

Hamburger Dschihadist Shahab D. – Part of AQ´s EU-Plot?

Es ist der 04.März 2009 als drei Männer und zwei Frauen aus Hamburg am Frankfurter Flughafen in ein Flugzeug steigen, dass sie in das Golfemirat Katar bringen wird. Ein Anschlussflug führt ins pakistanische Peshawar.

Die fünf Islamisten wollen Deutschland verlassen, sie wollen im wilden Waziristan an der pakistanisch-afghanischen Grenze ein Leben im Dschihad führen, weit weg vom verhassten Westen.

Shahab D. ist einer von ihnen. Geboren 1983 im Iran, floh er mit seinen Eltern als Folge des Iran-Irak-Krieges und immigrierte 1994 in die Bundesrepublik. Seitdem lebte der Iraner in Hamburg und besuchte die Moschee Masjid Taiba, die inzwischen von den Behörden geschlossen wurde. Beeinflusst von den radikalen Glaubensbrüdern aus dem Umfeld des Hamburger Gotteshauses, konvertierte Shahab D., der gebürtiger Schiit war, zum extremistischen Sunnitentum – er wurde ein strenggläubiger Salafist, trug lange Gewänder und ließ seinen Bart wachsen.

Im Jahr 2008 heiratete D. seine Freundin, eine heute 23jährige Zahnmedizinerin, ihr Vater ist muslimischer Westafrikaner, die Mutter Deutsche. Das Pärchen hielt sich zunehmend an eine extrem strenge Koranauslegung und begann über die Ausreise in ein islamisches Land nachzudenken.

Im März 2009 war es schließlich soweit. D.´s Ehefrau log ihre Eltern an, erklärte Shahab und sie wollten eine Pilgerreise nach Saudi-Arabien unternehmen. In Wahrheit war das Ziel ein Ausbildungslager der „Islamischen Bewegung Usbekistans“ (IBU) im pakistanischen Waziristan.

Teil jener islamistischen Reisegruppe die am 04.März 2009 Deutschland verließ waren auch der Deutsch-Afghane Ahmad Wali S., dessen Ehefrau, eine Indonesierin, und sei Bruder Sulayman.
S. ist aus Sicht deutscher Sicherheitsbehörden kein Unbekannter. Er verkehrte in den Kreisen der Hamburger Masjid Taiba und hatte engen Kontakt zum mutmaßlichen Helfer der 9/11-Todespiloten, Mounir el-Motassadeq. Wie Motassadeq war S. bei einer Reinigungsfirma am Hamburger Flughafen tätig, beide machten kurz nach dem 11.September 2001 gemeinsam Urlaub in Nordafrika.

Ahmad Wali S. und seine Gesinnungsgenossen erreichten die pakistanischen Terrorlager im Frühjahr 2009. Der Iraner Shahab D. tauchte wenige Monate später erstmals in einem Propagandavideo aus Waziristan auf. Darin nannte er sich „Abu Askar“, posierte mit einem mächtigen Schwert, auf dem Koranverse eingraviert waren. „Wir haben Deutschland und unsere Familien nur verlassen, damit Allah´s Wort das höchste wird!“, tönte der Hamburger Islamist. Shahab D. lebt offenbar seinen Traum vom Dschihad.

Sein Reisebegleiter Ahmad S. kämpft nicht mehr in den Reihen der IBU. Ihn griffen US-Soldaten im Juli im afghanischen Kabul auf. Der Deutsch-Afghane wird seitdem auf dem US-Stützpunkt Bagram verhört. Er soll die Quelle jener Informationen sein, die seit etwa einer Woche weltweit für mediale Aufmerksamkeit sorgen.

Al-Qaida, so berichtete der Dschihadist aus Hamburg den Amerikanern, plane eine Anschlagswelle in Europa. Von Kommando-Aktionen ist die Rede, vergleichbar mit jenem Angriff auf Luxushotels im indischen Mumbai im November 2009. Kleine Trupps bewaffneter Islamisten sollen weiche Ziele in europäischen Großstädten überfallen und auch möglicherweise Geiseln nehmen.

Wie der SPIEGEL nun meldet, soll Ahmad S. den amerikanischen Ermittlern verraten haben, er habe im Frühsommer in der Ortschaft Mir Ali den nordafrikanischen al-Qaida Mann „Sheikh Younis al-Mauretani“ getroffen. Dieser habe ihm erzählt, Osama Bin Laden persönlich habe die Europa-Operationen genehmigt und auch das nötige Geld zur Verfügung gestellt.

Vor einigen Tagen meldeten bereits pakistanische Medien, der al-Qaida Führer Bin Laden habe die Anschlagsplanungen in Auftrag gegeben und als Wunsch-Ziele Frankreich, Deutschland, Dänemark und Großbritannien genannt. Geheimdienste verfolgten offenbar schon seit einem Jahr die Spur europäischer Dschihadisten in Waziristan, die mit den Terroranschlägen beauftragt worden sein sollen. Von acht deutschen Staatsbürgern und zwei Briten ist die Rede, wobei einer der britisch-pakistanischen Brüder in einem der jüngsten Drohnangriffe ums Leben gekommen sein soll.

Unbestätigten Berichten zufolge soll der Hamburger Terrorhäftling in Bagram zudem davon berichtet haben, dass al-Qaidas Militärchef, der Pakistaner Ilyas Kashmiri, ein Attentat während der „Commonwealth Games“ plane. Das Sportereignis findet vom 03.-14.Oktober im indischen Neu Delhi statt.

Ahmad S. erzählte im US-Verhör außerdem, dass er in Afghanistan gegen US-Truppen und afghanische Soldaten gekämpft hat. Dort habe er auch einen weiteren Hamburger Islamisten getroffen – Said Bahaji.

Bahaji gilt als einer der Unterstützer der Hamburger 9/11-Zelle. Der im niedersächsischen Haselünne geborene Sohn eines Marokkaners und einer Deutschen, hatte an der Technischen Universität Hamburg-Harburg studiert und dort den späteren Todespiloten Mohammed Atta kennengelernt. Genau wie die Hamburger Terrorzelle verkehrte auch Bahaji in der Al Quds-Moschee im Stadtviertel St.Georg.

Kurz vor den Anschlägen in New York und Washington, am 04.September 2001, floh Said Bahaji nach Pakistan. Deutsche Sicherheitsbehörden fingen E-Mails ab, die Bahaji in den vergangenen Jahren an seine Ehefrau in Deutschland schickte. Ende vergangenen Jahres fanden pakistanische Soldaten bei der Einnahme von Terrornestern in Süd-Waziristan, den Pass des Hamburger al-Qaida Helfers.

Deutsche Sicherheitsbehörden beobachten den radikalen Kern der Hamburger Islamistenszene seit Jahren. Neun Jahre nach den Anschlägen von 9/11 ist im Umfeld der Moschee der Todespiloten um Mohammed Atta, eine neue Generation militanter Islamisten herangewachsen. Der buntgemischter Haufen von Dschihad-Befürwortern verehrt jene deutschen Glaubensbrüder, denen in den letzten Jahren die Reise in die Terrorcamps Waziristans gelungen ist, und die sich regelmäßig in Propagandavideos zu Wort melden.

Neben Shahab D., Ahmad und Sulayman S. machten sich im Frühjahr 2009 nach Behördeninformationen bis zu acht weitere Islamisten aus der Hansestadt auf nach Pakistan. Die Liste liest sich wie eine islamistische Internationale. Ein französischer Staatsbürger steht darauf, er soll verheiratet sein mit der Tochter des marokkanischen Hasspredigers Sheikh Fazazi, und schleuste offenbar Terrorrekruten aus Europa in den Irak. Seyed A., ein weiterer Verdächtiger aus dem Hamburger Dschihadisten-Zirkel, ist wohnhaft in Großbritannien. Ein weiterer Deutsch-Iraner, ein Deutsch-Türke und ein staatenloser Islamist gehören ebenfalls zu jenen die aus Hamburg gen Waziristan reisten.

Zwei weiße Konvertiten, der Deutsch-Tschetschene Alexander J. (30) und der Deutsch-Kasache Michael W. (25) wurden noch bei ihrer Anreise in Pakistan festgenommen und in die Bundesrepublik abgeschoben. Sie leben wieder in Hamburg.

Die Hamburger-Reisegruppe traf sich regelmäßig in der Masjid Taiba und schmiedete Pläne in den Heiligen Krieg zu ziehen. Treibende Kraft soll dabei der ursprünglich aus Frankfurt am Main stammende Rami M. gewesen sein. Der 25jährige Deutsch-Syrer gilt als Anführer der Hamburger Islamisten und erreichte selbst im Frühjahr 2009 Pakistan.

Pakistanische Soldaten nahmen M. im Juni fest als er versuchte von Waziristan aus zur deutschen Botschaft in Islamabad zu reisen. Er hatte wohl bereits nach einem Jahr genug vom Dschihad-Urlaub und wollte sich deutschen Behörden stellen. Diese sahen in Rami M. ein Sicherheitsrisiko und ließen ihn festnehmen. Seit dem 26.August sitzt der Anführer der Hamburger Dschihad-Reisegruppe in Deutschland in Haft.