Fritz the Holy Warrior

Posted: April 7, 2008 in HSToday
Tags: ,

My latest HST article. I had planned to use the title of this posting, but they insisted otherwise. It looks at Germany Turkish population and their growing links to international terrorism, some editorial decisions i am not totally sure i would agree with.

‘Fritz:’ Germany’s New Breed of Holy Warrior
by Raffaello Pantucci   
Friday, 04 April 2008
Suicide attack highlights growing problem of Turkish-German jihadismThe announcement March 17 by the Uzbek terror group, Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) ,that German citizen Cueneyt Ciftci blew himself up in a suicide attack that killed two American soldiers in Afghanistan marked a new chapter in jihadi terrorism.It was the first known instance of jihadist suicide terrorism by a German citizen. But, it is by no means the first instance in which jihadist extremists targeting the United States have arisen in Germany.

For example, in September 2007, German police raided the location of Fritz Gelowicz (jokingly referred to as “Fritz the Holy Warrior”), and arrested him and two conspirators allegedly involved in a plot that to target the US airbase at Ramstein and other American targets in Germany.

While the press focused on the plot, especially the jihadi converts among the alleged plotters (Fritz Gelowicz and Daniel Martin Schneider were both Germans who converted to Islam), one of the more disturbing facets of the cast overlooked by the press – pointed out by security experts – was the involvement of the Turkish-German citizen, Adam Yilmaz, the first from this ethnic group to appear in an extremist Islamist plot.

Until this important bust it had been believed that Germany’s substantial internal Turkish population had inherited the paternal secularism of their native country and had avoided the radicalizing fervor that has spread throughout the rest of Europe’s Muslim immigrant communities.

However, it wasn’t the parameters of the so-called “Sauerland Group,” which consisted of roughly 30 individuals of predominantly Turkish origin from the Gelowicz area, became to be investigated by authorities that it became clear that Germany’s domestic Islamist problem is more complex than thought. Until the bust of the “Sauerland Group,” the IJU was primarily thought to be a Central Asian terrorist group.

Indeed, Friday German counterterror authorities said two Islamic extremists from Germany may be planning attacks against targets in Afghanistan. The men, who share connections to the Sauerland Group terror cell and suicide bomber Cüneyt Ciftci, are thought to have trained at terror camps in Pakistan.

On April 1, Afghanistan’s Federal Criminal Police Office alerted German CT officials the United Nations, and the potential targets of attacks – including a five-star hotel in Kabul – that two men from Germany with known ties to terrorist groups might be planning a bombing targeting Germans in Afghanistan.

Guido Steinberg, a senior researcher at the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik and a former German Chancellery official, said the appearance of the IJU as an internal Germanic threat indicates that it is a potential new menace to Germany. According to Steinberg, it is “the Turkic aspect of the IJU that is most important [to Germany], but no-one is talking about it.”

While Steinberg believes IJU continues to “primarily [be] relevant in Waziristan” as a terrorist threat specifically to NATO forces in Afghanistan – where the group’s members are believed by intelligence officials to have 100 to 200 converts – he also estimates that they have several dozen dedicated loyalists – and perhaps more – in Germany.

More disturbingly, extremist websites espousing extremist rhetoric, including IJU and other Middle East jihadi terrorist organizations materials, have began to be discovered to being hosted by Turkish-base ISPs.

The emergence of these sites and their documented Al Qaeda ideology would seem to indicate two things: One; that there is an appetite for this rhetoric among Germany’s Turkish Muslim populations, and second, Al Qaeda or its affiliate organizations have begun to target the German-Turkish community as a source of potential recruits.

Amplifying the problem in Germany in so far as Steinberg is concerned is the fact “that in jihadist rhetoric, Afghanistan has begun to displace Iraq as the head-lining issue.”

And given Germany’s significant, highly visible involvement in Afghanistan, declining public opinion over its involvement as coalition forces are putting pressure on Germany for a more forceful presence, and the political precedent that was set by the Madrid bombings resulting from Spain’s retreat from Iraq, authorities fear jihadists may had have set out to take advantage of these divisions.

While it seems unlikely this apparently internal German problem will extend to the borders of the United States, CIA Director Michael Hayden and other US CT authorities are clearly worried about their own potential domestic jihadi converts – some of whom intelligence official caution in background interviews with HSToday may be establishing formidable operational ties to the Al Qaeda network.

While it seems unlikely that the growing Turkish-German jihadi threat will reach the same level of threat that America faces from, say, Britain’s South Asian populations, it nevertheless is a looming threat that Western intelligence services must keep heir eyes on.

For as Steinberg pointed out, Turkish-Germans are from a vastly different social sphere that their British South Asian brethren, and more are more connected to Germany and Turkey than they are to the United States. The principal threat to the US, then, is likely to be in the form of attacks directed at American interests abroad.

However, as jihadists, especially these taking their queue from Al Qaeda, which increasingly has demonstrated its intent and capability to manipulate public opinion, the more intangible fallout from Turkish-German jihadism could be its efforts to influence the political consequences of a terrorist attack on German soil, where almost 70 percent of the population already is against Germany’s involvement in the war on terror in Afghanistan.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s