Hamburg, Germany — The German government declared Hamburg city under level 2 alert as a group of local bred Jihadist is alleged to be plotting a series of terrorist attacks on European cities, with Hamburg City at center of the plot.
The reported plot was revealed after officials had arrested Ahmed Sidiqi, a German citizen of Afghan descent. Sidiqi was caught in Afhhanistan in July and transfered to the U.S. air base at Bagram for interrogation. No charges were filed against him and German authorities said he is cooperating with the investigation.
Sidiqi and 10 others were said to have left Hamburg for the tribal areas of Pakistan in early 2009. According to German intelligence officials, Sidiqi and his company joined a jihadist group crusading against the US and its allies.
A European counterterrorism official told CNN that members from Sidiqi’s group were to play a role in the plot with one member as a “foot soldier” and the others as crew in the planning team. “Sidiqi divulges new information every day,” the German intelligence sources said.
The information gathered prompted the US government to issue a security advisory for Americans traveling to Europe. A spokesperson for the homeland security said Monday that a memorandum, entitled “Al Qaueda Threat to Europe” went out a day earlier to government law enforcement agencies notifying them that the travel alert was issued based on intelligence reports.
Sweden was one of the country to react to the reports. They raised their country’s threat level from “low” to “elevated,” the third-highest threat level on a five level scale. The British Commonwealth Office has changed its travel advisory in France and Germany as well. The status changed from “substantial” threat of terrorism to a “high” threat.
Several European governments, however, opted not to change their already high security alert levels. France followed the general recommendations for potential terror threat, Germany did not alter their Level 2 alert and Spain has stayed at the stage level since January of this year.
When CNN spoke with Sidiqi’s family in Hamburg over the weekend, his sister told them that they were shocked by the allegations against him. She described her brother as a devout, family loving man who wanted to start a new life with his wife in Afghanistan.
German officials have zeroed in the Taiba mosque in Hamburg as the recruiting ground for the Hamburg Jihadist group. It is the same mosque Mohamed Atta, the lead hijacker in the 9/11 attack, attended.
Officials has also learned that Naamen Meziche, a friend of Atta from those days, palys a crucial role in the new plot attack. Meziche, 40, a French citizen of Algerian descent, recruits young men praying at the Taiba mosque to join in the Jihad war. “Meziche had connections to al Qaeda dating to the 1990s that he rekindled once he arrived in Pakistan’s tribal areas,” said a European counterterrorism official. The 2008 Mumbai attack, where more than 160 people were killed, was lead by the Lashkar-e-Taiba, a terrorist group based in Pakistan.
According to a European counterterrorism official,Sidiqi told him that Meziche had assumed a planning role in the new operation — assisted by Asadullah M. — a man which Osama Bin Laden himself approved– and a man named Dashti was to be the “foot-soldier” in the plot. Dashti is believed to be still at large in the tribal areas of Pakistan.
German intelligence told CNN that Hamburg is currently under Islamist extremist threat but unlike other European cities, it still faces lesser challenge. The government is currently increasing its resources to confront the problem of terrorism.