Wednesday, October 6, 2010




After the Arabs and the Pakistanis, the Uzbeks have come to the forefront of Al Qaeda-inspired global jihad.

---- From my article of September 6,2007, titled “Global Jihad: Uzbeks To The Fore - International Terrorism Monitor---Paper No. 273” at

On August 15,2007, the Pakistani authorities handed over to Germany Tolga Durbin, a German citizen of Turkish origin, who belonged to the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), an Uzbek terrorist organization, which claimed to represent the Muslims of the world and not merely the Uzbeks. It was closely aligned with Al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban and drew its recruits from the non-Arab sections of the Islamic world, particularly the Uzbeks, the Turks who are ethnically close to the Uzbeks and European white converts to Islam.

2.After interrogating him, the German Police arrested on September 4, 2007, Fritz Martin Gelowicz, 28, a German convert to Islam, Daniel Martin Schneider, 21, another German convert to Islam, and Adem Yilmaz, 29 of Turkish origin on charges of their being members of the IJU. A fourth person Gofir Salimov, an Uzbek, who was also suspected to be a member of the IJU, managed to flee Germany before he could be arrested. The German authorities claimed that the arrested persons, who were led by Gelowicz, were planning to attack with massive car bombs the Ramstein military airbase, about 140 km South-West of Frankfurt, and the Frankfurt airport. The Ramstein airbase is the largest base used by the US army in Europe. The investigation brought out the name of another member of the IJU in Germany Attila Selek, also known as Muaz. He was also arrested.

3.It was reported that the objective of the planned attack on the Ramstein base was to force Germany to close down its air base in Termez, Uzbekistan, which was providing logistic support for some 3,000 German soldiers serving in the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. During the searches undertaken by the German Police after the arrest of the four persons, they recovered a 35% solution of hydrogen peroxide, stored in a hideout, which could have been converted into an explosive device and 26 military detonators smuggled from Istanbul to Germany. The police filed a charge-sheet against the arrested persons on September 2,2008.

4. During the trial, Gelowicz and the three other defendants admitted that they were members of the IJU and that their planned attack, which could not be carried out due to their arrests before their plans could make progress, was timed to coincide with a vote in the German parliament on extending the country's military presence in Afghanistan. In their testimonies they also said that they went to Pakistan in 2006 to undergo training in a camp of the IJU.

5. All the four were found guilty by a Dusseldorf court on March 5,2010. Fritz Gelowicz and Daniel Schneider, the two German converts to Islam, were jailed for 12 years each and the two Germans of Turkish origin, Adem Yilmaz and Aytila Selek, received 11-year and five-year prison terms respectively.

6. During the investigation of this case, the German Police reportedly found that Eric Breininger, another white convert to Islam who changed his name after conversion as Abdul Ghafar, had escaped to Pakistan via Egypt and Iran and was operating from a camp of the IJU in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). He was born in Neunkirchen in the Saarland region of Germany, in 1987. His parents divorced when he was a child. In 2006, he met some members of the IJU and embraced Islam. On May 23,2008, a web site associated with the IJU posted a video interview with Eric Breininger in which he warned that "Germany - along with every other nation taking part in the occupation of Afghanistan - should expect attacks by Muslims". On September 25, 2008, the German Police issued a look-out notice for Eric Breininger, and Houssain Al Malla, who were wanted for trial in the Ramstein plot case. On October 21,2008, another video message of Breininger was posted by the IJU in which he denied any plans for a terrorist attack in Germany. Elif Medya, a Turkish-language jihadi media outlet, released a video on September 11, 2009, showing Ramadan donations being given to the German and Turkish members of the IJU in which Breininger was shown along with another person who was described as the Turkish jihadi commander Abu Zarr (Ebu Zarr). It was stated that Abu Zarr had traveled from Chechnya to Afghanistan/Pakistan. On April 15, 2010, in another video message Breininger claimed that the “German Taliban Mujahideen” had carried out an attack against an American base in Paktika, East Afghanistan, between Kabul and Kandahar. He described it as the first operation of the German Taliban in Afghanistan. Subsequently, the Pakistani authorities claimed to have killed him in an encounter on April 30,2010.

7. While the Dusseldorf trial was on, the German Police arrested in February,2010, two persons of immigrant origin with German passports, one of whom, a woman, was described by the media as the wife of Gelowicz on a charge of collecting money for the IJU from the Muslim community in Germany and sending it to the IJU through an intermediary in Turkey. They said a third person of immigrant origin wanted in this case was absconding. The police did not give the full names of the three persons. They were merely identified as 21-year-old Alican T, 31-year-old Fatih K, and a woman, 28-year-old Filiz G. They were charged in a local court in August,2010, with supporting the IJU and an organization described as the German Taliban. They were also accused of recruiting members for Al Qaeda and spreading propaganda material online.

8. In July 2010, Ahmed Sidiqi, a German citizen of Afghan origin who had disappeared from Hamburg along with 11 other Muslims including his Indonesian wife in 2009, was arrested by a group of plain-clothed US soldiers in Kabul while he was going to the German embassy. Sidiqi went to Germany from Afghanistan in the early 1990s. He became a naturalised German citizen in 2001. He worked at Hamburg's airport as a cleaner. In March,2009, he and his wife flew to Peshawar, where they joined 10 others including a German of Syrian descent, Rami Makanesi, a German of Iranian origin, Shahab Dashti and Naamen Meziche, a French citizen of Algerian origin. According to the German news magazine Der Spiegel, Sidiqi told his US interrogators that after receiving training in Pakistan, he fought in Afghanistan and met Said Bahaji, who is wanted for involvement in 9/11. Sidiqi reportedly moved to Mir Ali, a border town in North Waziristan where he met Sheikh Younis al-Mauretani, who Sidiqi said had become Al Qaeda's third most senior leader. The Sheikh told him about plans for a series of attacks in several European countries, including the UK, Germany and France, according to Der Spiegel. Sidiqi claimed that Osama bin Laden had approved the plot and also provided some funding.

9. The claims made by Sidiqi seem to have triggered concerns in US and European security agencies about the likelihood of Mumbai-26/11 style terrorist strikes in the UK, France and Germany involving commando style attacks with mixed modus operandi combining the use of hand-held weapons and explosives. The objective will be to punish EU countries playing a prominent role in the operations against the Taliban in Afghanistan. The Madrid terrorist strikes of March 2004 and the London terrorist strikes of July 2005 were directed against the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq. The terrorist strikes planned now would seek to punish the West for its involvement in Afghanistan.

10 In the Madrid strikes, North African members of Al Qaeda played an active role. Pakistani suicide bombers played an active role in the London blasts. It is likely that a mix of jihadis of Pakistani (in UK), North African (in France) and Uzbek and Turkish origin (in Germany) could play a role in the Afghanistan-focused terrorist strikes now being planned. One found an Afghanistan focus even in the Mumbai—26/11 terrorist strikes by the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) since many of the foreigners killed came from countries whose troops were fighting in Afghanistan.

11. Al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban are looking for an Afghanistan-focused operation in Europe, but there are no indications that trained persons for such an operation might have already been dispatched to Europe. The current Drone strikes in North and South Waziristan, in which some persons of German origin had been killed, are intended to pre-empt any new terrorist strikes in Europe by killing those trained or being trained for this purpose before they could be dispatched to Europe. The security alerts and travel advisories issued by the US and others indicate that despite the success of the Drone strikes, there is a fear that some trained jihadis might have already reached Europe. Ziercke, the head of Germany's Federal Office of Criminal Investigation, reportedly said in a recent interview with the Berlin newspaper Der Tagesspiegel that there was evidence that at least 70 Islamic radicals from Germany had undergone military training in Pakistan, and that 40 of them are believed to have gone on to fight coalition forces in Afghanistan ( 6-10-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: )