Purported Al-Qaeda Video Threatens, Flatters Germans Before Elections

With just a week to go before the German general elections, a purported al-Qaeda video threatening Germany has prompted the German Ministry of Interior to increase security at airports and some railway stations. Although the security measures are being taken now, the video clearly threatens an attack or attacks for the period after the elections and depending on their outcome. The video features Bekkay Harrach, a German Islamist of Moroccan descent who goes by the nom de guerre Abu Talha Al-Almani or “Abu Talha the German.”

Harrach is known to German authorities for two prior propaganda videos that have been attributed to him. But, as he himself makes clear in the current video, he is also known to German authorities for other reasons. Thus, oddly enough, he begins his speech by stating precisely his gratitude toward Germany:

I thank the Federal Republic of Germany for its quick help during my incarceration in Syria. I thank the Federal Republic of Germany for its quick help following my bullet wound in Hebron, Palestine. I thank the Federal Republic of Germany for not bothering my wife following my trip to Afghanistan and not preventing her from leaving the country despite a long period of observation.

Harrach then goes on to stress more general grounds for al-Qaeda as such to be grateful -- or at least not particularly hostile – toward Germany. Thus, he notes that Germany is not “so burdened [with guilt] as other colonial states” and that a majority of the population supports the withdrawal of German troops from Afghanistan. “And one should not forget the clear ‘no’ of the German people to the Iraq war.” To this, Harrach could have added that suspected key al-Qaeda operatives like Reda Seyam and Mamoun Darkazanli continue to make their homes in Germany and have, in effect, been protected by Germany from prosecution in other countries. (Specifically on the case of Seyam, see here.)

Harrach repeatedly returns to the theme of the general forbearance of al-Qaeda toward Germany. Thus he notes, for example, that “if al-Qaeda had Germany in its sights for no particular reason [grundlos], then Mohammad Atta would have spared himself a lot of trouble and carried out [the 9/11 attacks] right in Germany.” “Al-Qaeda certainly had and has no interest in a conflict with Germany,” he adds. On Harrach’s account, the only ground for al-Qaeda’s dissatisfaction with Germany – the aforesaid “particular reason” – is the presence of German troops in Afghanistan.