German-born Turk reportedly behind attack
March 17, 2008
A German-born Turkish man linked to a terrorist cell that allegedly plotted attacks on U.S. bases in Germany conducted a March suicide attack that killed two American soldiers in Afghanistan, according to an Islamist group.
The claim was made on a Web site of the Islamic Jihad Union, a shadowy Uzbek terror group that has claimed several attacks in recent years. Though German security services have not yet confirmed the information, German officials are worried about what would be the first German-born Islamist to carry out a suicide attack.
The 28-year-old man, identified on the Web site as Cüneyt Ciftci, allegedly drove the explosives-laden pickup truck that struck a U.S. outpost in eastern Afghanistan on March 3, killing two soldiers and wounding several others. In pictures posted on the site, Ciftci is shown smiling, brandishing a pistol and pointing one finger to the sky.
According to several German media reports over the weekend, security officials believe the man had lived for several years in Ansbach, Germany, until last April, when he traveled via Turkey to a terrorist training camp in Pakistan.
A few days after the March attack, a posting on the group’s site lionized Ciftci — also known as Saad Ebu Furkan — as “a brave Turk, who came from Germany and exchanged his life of luxury for paradise.”
Spiegel Online, the Web version of the influential German news magazine, called the man “Berlin’s Worst Nightmare” — the first suicide bomber from Germany, if confirmed.
German media reports said the Internet message was at first taken as propaganda by security services. Then, as German agencies investigated the claim, they found disturbing evidence that the bomber was indeed Ciftci, and that he had links to a terror cell in Germany that had been broken up in September.
That group, dubbed the “Sauerland Cell,” had allegedly plotted bombing attacks against targets that reportedly ranged from Frankfurt Airport and Ramstein Air Base to discos and pubs frequented by Americans.
When German officials carried out raids on 41 locations in early September, they found materials “to make bombs with more explosive power than the ones used in the London and Madrid bombings,” according to the head of Germany’s Federal Crime Office.
At least three members of the group — two of them native Germans — were arrested and as many as ten more were being sought, officials said. The ringleaders included Fritz Martin Gelowicz, Daniel Schneider, and Adem Yilmaz, also of Turkish origin.
By the time of the arrests, Ciftci had left Germany and begun training as a Jihadist, according to German media reports.
According to Spiegel Online, security officials said the “Sauerland Cell” referred to Ciftci as “Ismael from Ansbach” and that he had left behind a wife and two children. Yilmaz allegedly facilitated Ciftci’s trip to Pakistan, Spiegel reported.
According to that report, Ciftci left his car — which had been bugged as part of the Germany investigation — with other members of the Islamist cell later arrested.