International terrorist organization al-Qaida released a video on Friday in which Bekkay Harrach, an Islamist from Bonn, threatens the German electorate ahead of next week's general election.
Islamic terrorists threaten Germany ahead of election
In the video, a man identified as Bekkay Harrach from Bonn demanded an end to Germany's military mission in Afghanistan. He spoke German, and was dressed in a suit and tie and stood in front of a red curtain.
"If the people choose to continue the war, they have passed judgment on themselves. The parliamentary election is the only opportunity for the people to influence its country's politics," Harrach says, "When the last German soldier is withdrawn from Afghanistan, the last mujahedeen will be withdrawn from Germany."
German security services consider the 26-minute long video genuine, since Harrach, a German of Moroccan origin, is believed to be somewhere in the middle of the al-Qaida hierarchy. He has appeared in several al-Quaida videos released on the Internet this year, calling himself Abu Talha. But the video is not believed to threaten a specific attack.
In the video, which is currently in the hands of German state broadcaster ARD, Harrach calls on Muslims to stay out of public areas for two weeks after the election.
German security services have reported increased activity and travel among terrorist suspects in the past months, and Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble warned a security conference in Berlin last Tuesday of the danger of attacks ahead of the election. But he also emphasized that, apart from Internet warnings, there were no concrete indications of an attack.
Security measures have been heightened ahead of the election
Security services are also expecting a new propaganda video from al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in the coming days.
"The security services are on a higher state of alert because of the election," the Interior Ministry said in a statement. The federal police force added, "Al-Qaida's direct threats to Germany have taken on a new quality since the beginning of the year."
Federal police officers with bulletproof vests and machine guns began to patrol certain train stations on Friday. "It's about presence. We want to make travellers feel safe," a police spokeswoman told reporters.
Berlin Interior Minister Ehrhart Koerting also confirmed that new security measures have been introduced in the capital, on the advice of the federal government.
Editor: Susan Houlton