Concrete But Shaky


On Saturday German police sealed off the Limbecker Platz shopping center in Essen, one of the largest in the country, on the strength of a highly specific threat (a “konkrete Gefahr” in their words) consisting of a 3-man suicide attack team using backpack bombs at 4:30.  The place was cleared out and surrounded by heavily armed men; hundreds of officers were involved in the operation. Continue reading


The Fifth Man (oder der V-Mann)


My mini-foray into the old Salafist scene in Ulm, Germany, based on the Leicester angle of the recent arrest of the Belkaid brothers got me very interested in the old Sauerland Cell.  For my readers who are thoroughly familiar with this group, I beg your patience as I relate the details to those who aren’t so familiar. Continue reading

For German Salafists, Leicester Is Open For Business

Mohamed Belkaid

The German press announced a series of raids on Wednesday, February 8, aimed at two Algerian brothers, ages 32 and 39.  These brothers are accused of funneling money and material to Jabhat al-Nusrah and its variant organizations for years through the non-profit organization Medizin mit Herz, which sits in Hennef by Bonn.  Authorities have been aware of the group for some time and keep it under observation due to its known ties to the local Salafist scene. Continue reading

Story of a Ramblin’ Man

Albakr Out and About (FOCUS Online/Wochit)

Interviews with Albakr’s Syria-based brother, Alaa, in the last few days have shed some light on the travels of Jaber, if his details are to be believed.  Alaa starts of by saying that his brother was jailed twice in Syria in 2014, once for a run-in with a soldier at a checkpoint who he felt had disrespected him.  Ten days after his release from that incident (sometime in late November 2014), he departed Syria for Algeria, made his way to Tunisa and then Libya, crossed the Mediterranean to Italy, moved up through Austria, and then entered Germany, where we are able to pick up his story again. Continue reading

German Law Enforcement Comes to Collect Their Man

Jaber Albakr

I happened to be awake when the stories began to break about the capture of Jaber Albakr.  As I’ve read the more detailed accounts in the local press out of Leipzig and other national-level media, I continue to be amazed at the unwarranted self-congratulatory behavior of the authorities. Continue reading

“Keine Panne” Again

Apartment in Usti nad Labem 97

Only last night I wrote about the German authorities’ insistence that their inability to keep track of dangerous Islamists in their territory, even ones already being processed by the German legal system, is not a “breakdown.”  Yet, here we are in the second day of a manhunt for an allegedly IS-trained bomber living as a refugee in Chemnitz, which from all appearances looks to be the result of a botched operation by uncoordinated forces.  When questioned the authorities respond: “keine Panne” (no breakdown). Continue reading

Hannover Islamists Under Strict Observation Or “Andrei… you’ve lost another submarine?”

Ahmed Feredaws A.

During the month of September to the embarrassment of all involved, not one, but two dangerous Islamists (Gefährder) from Hannover were reported to have abruptly disappeared, one of whom has had an exit ban placed on him for over a year.  Reports emerged on September 6 that Ahmed Feredaws A. (24), about whom I’ve previously written, failed to report to police on July 11, two days after his exit ban was renewed for another year.  Since the ban was originally imposed, Ahmed was required to report himself to authorities three times per week; authorities confirmed that he did not show on July 11, and he has not been seen since.  They continue to meet regularly with his “spouse”, Nur G., a German-Turk younger by a year, but there is no requirement for her to do so.  She was suspected of wanting to depart with Ahmed and engage in jihad in his home country of Afghanistan. Continue reading

The Young and the Restless

German special police forces escort a Syrian suspected of being members of Islamic State in Karlsruhe
German special police forces escort a Syrian suspected of being members of Islamic State outside the building of the German Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof) in Karlsruhe, Germany September 13, 2016. Police raided asylum-seekers homes in northern Germany today , arresting three Syrians suspected of being members of Islamic State and awaiting instructions from them to take part in terror attacks. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

Cells, plots, and threats of violence from unstable teens and twenty-somethings continue to issue forth on a near-daily basis in the highways and byways of Western Europe.  Here are three vignettes of the “new normal” from just this week. Continue reading

Still in the Game

Melouk, Kouachi, Beghal, and Laidouni hitting the soccer field in Cantal, France, on 4/4/2011

In my last post, I mentioned that I had decided to take one individual from an old plot—in this case, Slimane Khalfaoui from the 2000 Strasbourg Cathedral/Christmas Market plot—and research what had become of him.  I ended up going off on a tangent and looking at Rabah Boukaouma, a conspirator most recently with respect to the Sid Ahmed Ghlam affair. Continue reading

Threads in Hannover


I remember the cancellation of the international friendly between Germany and the Netherlands at the stadium in Hannover just a few days after the attacks in Paris.  Seeing it unfold on television, I thought it looked pretty serious, and I expected that we would start to see the outlines of a dangerous network emerge in the days that followed.  My mind doesn’t remember any such thing happening and looking back at the reporting, my mind appears to be sound.  Apart from some sensational stories about a plot with five bombs, three in the stadium, one at a bus stop, and one at the railway station, nothing much more came of it.  Articles seem to peter out completely after about five days.  For most it would appear to be a mistaken intelligence tip and an understandable over-reaction in light of what had just transpired.  I never really gave it any more thought after a day or two. Continue reading