German suspects in Afghanistan

BERLIN: More and more extremists from Germany are traveling to Pakistan and Afghanistan to plot terror attacks; a new video shows a German convert to Islam who calls on Islamists back home to follow his example. The video that appeared Tuesday on a Turkish-language Web site threw German security experts into a frenzy: It showed a German Islamist from Neuenkirchen in the Saarland, whose “wanted” posters hang all over Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul. German news magazine Focus identified him as Eric Breininger, a 20-year-old German who converted to Islam a few years ago. Together with his accomplice, identified by German news magazine Focus as Houssain al-Malla, Breininger is hiding somewhere in Afghanistan or Pakistan, experts say.

The video shows Breininger sporting a camouflage suit and a machine gun, according to the online version of German news magazine Der Spiegel. Breininger is lauding Cueneyt Ciftci, a 28-year-old Turkish national from Germany, who on March 3 drove a pickup truck full of explosives into a U.S. outpost in the province of Khost, killing two U.S. soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division and two Afghan civilians.

The suicide bombing, Breininger said, was a “good deed” as it “sent to Hell” several nonbelievers. The man then continues to ask his “brothers in Germany” to follow his and Ciftci’s example and join the Jihad in Afghanistan and Pakistan — be it by traveling there, or by providing monetary or spiritual support. German security experts have long feared Breininger and al-Malla are planning terror attacks like the one Ciftci carried out in March.

Both men in September 2007 traveled to the region via Egypt and Iran, Der Spiegel said, adding they were trained in a remote camp in Pakistan by the Islamic Jihad Union, a terrorist group that started in Uzbekistan and now has ties to al-Qaida and the Taliban.

The IJU has kept German security officials busy in the past. In the summer of 2007, police in western Germany raided a house where a terror cell instructed by the IJU plotted attacks targeting U.S. institutions in Germany. The cell had stacked massive explosives that would have produced bombings more deadly than the ones that hit London and Madrid. Police in the raid arrested the cell’s three main ringleaders, Fritz Gelowicz, Daniel Schneider and Adem Yilmaz.

Ciftci and the pair that is still on the run also promoted their ties to the IJU — which seems to have evolved into a major recruiter for Islamists from Germany. Schneider is believed to have recruited Breininger. The two lived together before the arrests of 2007.

While Breininger in the video does not say he is planning a terrorist attack, officials believe he is doing so; at the least, they suppose the IJU wants to turn him into yet another role model for potential extremists living in Germany, who may then be prompted to travel to Pakistan as well.

Germany has had trouble integrating its Muslim minority, and observers say the IJU may hope to recruit new extremists from the pool of frustrated young men alienated from Germany’s mainstream society.

Security experts’ second nightmare scenario has potential IJU followers plan attacks in Germany, just as the terror cell squashed in the summer of 2007 did.

Der Spiegel said security officials at all European Union entry points and at all German airports have received Breininger’s and al-Malla’s pictures. German officials are also trying to revoke his passport, the magazine said.

About the author

Rubab Saleem

Rubab Saleem is Editor of Pakistan Times

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