Al Qaeda Threatens Germany Ahead of Elections

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Al Qaeda has posted a new video threatening Germany, highlighting an increased threat level ahead of national elections and prompting authorities to step up security, the Interior Ministry said Friday.

The ministry said the video underlines the fact the Sept. 27 elections offer "a particular background for propaganda and operational actions by terrorist groups."

It said in a brief statement that authorities believe there is an "increased threat situation" to which they are responding with "adjusted security measures in particular at airports and stations."

The video, provided by the SITE Intelligence Group, showed a speaker warning that, if Germans do not push their political parties to withdraw the country's soldiers from Afghanistan, "there will be a rude awakening after the elections."

Germany's ARD television and SITE, a U.S. firm that monitors militant message traffic, identified the speaker, who delivered his message in fluent German in front of a red curtain, as Bekkay Harrach.

Harrach, who uses the pseudonym Abu Talha, has featured in previous videos over the past year threatening Germany.

"In a democracy, only the people can order its soldiers home. But if the people decides for the continuation of the war, it has delivered its own verdict," the speaker said. "The parliamentary election is the people's only opportunity to shape the policy of the country."

"If the German people wants to live in security again, it has the opportunity now," he said, adding that "with the withdrawal of the last German soldiers, the last mujaheed also will be withdrawn from Germany."

The speaker said that Muslims in Germany should "stay away from anything not vital for the two weeks after the elections."

Germany's federal prosecutors and Federal Criminal Police Office said the video was still being evaluated. Frank Wallenta, a spokesman for prosecutors, said it was very likely that the speaker was in fact Harrach.

Authorities have said Harrach, a German of Moroccan background, is believed to have lived for many years in Bonn and now to be in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border area.

Germany has more than 4,200 soldiers in Afghanistan. The deployment is unpopular, but has not been a significant issue in the election campaign.

Only one of the five parties in parliament, the opposition Left Party, advocates an immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan, and it has no realistic chance of joining the next government.

German officials have over recent months described new videos featuring German-speakers as part of a "new quality" of threats. The Interior Ministry underlined that on Friday.

Direct threats to Germany by Al Qaeda and other organizations since the beginning of this year "are reaching a new quality," it said.