German Jihadists Al-Qaida Fighter from Bonn Believed Dead
In the fall of 2009, Bekkay Harrach, an extremist from Bonn, threatened on behalf of al-Qaida to launch terrorist attacks in Germany. It now appears that he has been killed in Afghanistan. The terror group IMU announced his death this week.
A well-known jihadist of German-Moroccan origin raised in the city of Bonn is believed to have been killed in fighting in Afghanistan. Bekkay Harrach, also known by his nom de guerre, "Abu Talha al-Alamani," has been reported dead in an online posting attributed to the terror group Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).
"Our friend Bekkay from Bonn, alias Abu Talha, the fearless preacher, who had taken on all of Germany, died the death of the shaheed (martyr)," the group wrote in a message to supporters in Germany obtained by SPIEGEL ONLINE.
In the fall of 2009, Harrach alarmed security officials in Germany when, in a video message made in al-Qaida's name, he claimed there would be terror strikes, "bitter consequences" and a "grim awakening" in Germany if September general elections that year didn't result in the withdrawal of German troops from Afghanistan.
The message released this week states that Harrach died near the city of Bagram during a joint military operation that had been conducted by IMU, al-Qaida and the Pakistani Taliban (TTP). The group said Harrach had led the mission and that videos of the fighting would soon be released.
A German Jihadist in Waziristan
After posting his video threat on the Internet in the autumn of 2009, Harrach became one of the most prominent German jihadists known to be in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region. Dozens of jihadists from Germany are believed to have traveled to the region to join the fight against Western troops stationed in Afghanistan. But Harrach was the only one believed to actually have been a member of al-Qaida.
At the time of his 2009 terror warnings, intelligence officials in Germany said they believed he had reached the mid-level of al-Qaida leadership and that he had become a member of the terror network's external operations committee, which is thought to be responsible for attacks abroad. Most of the other German jihadists had joined forces with either IMU or the Islamic Jihad Union, or one its splinter groups.
The IMU message announcing Harrach's death appears to be a circular letter that has been signed by jihadist Mounir C., also known as Abu Adam, who also hails from Bonn. The group posted the message on Tuesday on a well-known jihadist website that has published similar material from a number of terrorist groups over the years.
Security Officials Believe Letter Is Authentic
It is impossible to verify absolute authenticity, but the presentation, location, tone and other content all point to its likely veracity. German security sources contacted by SPIEGEL ONLINE say that they are currently investigating the document but that they consider it to be authentic.
"We had the honor several times of meeting him here in the mountains of Waziristan," Abu Adam, who himself is well known through his appearances in numerous IMU videos, writes of Bekkay Harrach in the letter.
If it is confirmed, Harrach's death would not come as a major surprise. Rami M., another German radical from Hamburg who was arrested in Pakistan in 2010 and has since been extradited to Germany where he is in custody, told investigators under interrogation about rumors that Harrach had died. A number of suspected German jihadists have been killed in Waziristan in recent months by strikes against them by American drones, or in battle.