‘Treasure trove’ of al-Qaeda documents uncovered in Germany
May 1, 2012 3 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
German police have uncovered what appears to be the most significant collection of al-Qaeda planning documents to be acquired by Western intelligence since last year’s assassination of Osama bin Laden. It has been reported that the United States Navy Seals, who raided the late bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan nearly a year ago, obtained thousands of al-Qaeda documents. But the latest acquisition, which reportedly consists of over 100 digital documents, is described by Western intelligence sources as “pure gold”. The documents were in possession of Maqsood Lodin, a 22-year-old Austrian, who was detained by German police last year as he was returning to Europe from a trip to Pakistan, via the Hungarian capital Budapest. During his detention, German authorities found hidden in his underwear a number of digital storage devices. One of them contained a pornographic video called “Kick Ass”, which, upon further investigation, was found to contain encrypted documents, in .pdf format, that had been disguised to look like video files. According to German newspaper Die Zeit, which first reported on the finding in March, many of the documents were training manuals written in several different languages, including Arabic, German, and English. But intelligence experts are mostly interested in a collection of documents entitled “Future Works”. These contain notes from what seem like al-Qaeda brainstorming sessions on plans for possible terrorist plots in Europe. Among them is a suggestion to “seize passenger ships and use them to put pressure on the public”, according to Die Zeit. A subsequent section in the document discusses the idea of ordering passengers in the hijacked ship or ships to dress in orange-color jumpsuits, similar to those used by the United States in the Guantánamo Bay prison in Cuba. That section is somewhat obscure, but Die Zeit interprets it as a plan to stage public executions of passengers as a way of pressuring Western governments to release al-Qaeda-affiliated detainees. Other plans, according to the German newspaper, discuss the possibility of carrying out armed suicide raids in European cities, similar to the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed nearly 200 people in India’s most populous city. The paper quotes “intelligence sources” who argue that the documents —most of which date to 2009— show that al-Qaeda has been considering plans to carry out several low-profile attacks as decoys to preoccupy Western intelligence services, while secretly planning a large-scale, high-profile attack reminiscent of 9/11. Lodin’s arrest, which occurred nearly a year ago, led to the arrest in Vienna, Austria, of Yusuf Ocak, who also visited Pakistan alongside Lodin. Both men are currently on trial in Germany.