Al Qaeda threatens German soldiers in web video

BERLIN Sun Jan 18, 2009 3:49pm EST

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BERLIN (Reuters) - Al Qaeda issued an Internet threat against German soldiers at the weekend, which the government in Berlin said showed the risk of a Islamist attack on German soil had increased.

Citing Germany's involvement in fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, the video message posted on the Internet was titled "The rescue package for Germany" and bore the logo of As-Sahab, which is al Qaeda's specialist media arm.

"Your soldiers are safe nowhere," said a masked man dressed in a black turban in the video posted online late on Saturday. A sign behind his man's head identified him as "Abu Talha the German" and he spoke in German with a slight foreign accent.

"If Germans ... naively believe they will get away with it, then the politicians are unfortunately out of their element."

Whoever tried to make a distinction between al Qaeda and the Taliban had not understood his enemy, he added.

Germany is part of NATO's peacekeeping force in Afghanistan and has a mandate to send 4,500 troops there. Taliban militants claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb which exploded near the German embassy in Kabul on Saturday.

The blast killed a U.S. soldier and four Afghan civilians.

The German Interior Ministry said the attack in Kabul and the latest video made it clear the threat of a terrorist attack had taken on a new quality.

"The explicit mention of the German involvement in Afghanistan is particularly worrying," said the ministry in a statement. "This shows Germany has become a special focus for al Qaeda."

The ministry said the man in the video came from Germany, and was believed to have left the country in the first half of 2007 to go to a militant training camp in the border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Responding to the attack in Kabul, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said at the weekend Germany remained committed to its involvement in Afghanistan.

"We will not be put off providing help for the Afghan people by terror and shock," he said.

(Reporting by Madeline Chambers and Lin Noueihed in Dubai; Editing by Sophie Hares)

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