Senior German al Qaeda operative thought killed in Predator strike in Pakistan


Bekkay Harrach, who is also known as Al Hafidh Abu Talha al Almani, in an al Qaeda propaganda video.

A German national who is a senior member of al Qaeda’s external operations branch may have been killed in a US Predator strike in August, according to US and German intelligence officials. The reports are unconfirmed, however.

Bekkay Harrach, a German national who is based along the Afghan-Pakistani border, is thought to have been killed in one of the four strikes in August in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan.

Harrach’s death has not been confirmed by German or US intelligence, nor has al Qaeda released a martyrdom statement announcing his death.

The possibility that Harrach was killed was first reported in the German newspaper Munich Focus. US intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal said they are investigating the reports of Harrach’s death and believe he may have been killed in an attack that targeted a Haqqani Network compound in Pakistan.

“Harrach may have been one of the five killed in the hit in Danda Darpa Khel,” an official told The Long War Journal. “But without al Qaeda confirmation, nothing is certain.”

The Aug. 23 strike targeted a compound in Danda Darpa Khel, the hub for the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network. Harrach is known to be very close to the Haqqani Network.

Harrach is reported to be under the direct protection of Siraj Haqqani, the military commander of the family network and a member of al Qaeda’s ruling council. Haqqani Network commanders are said to seek his advice on the planning and execution of major attacks.

“If we want to do something, we always ask the German [Harrach] for his opinion,” a source in the Haqqani Network told Spiegel in January 2009.

Background on Bekkay Harrach

Harrach, who goes by the alias Abu Talha al Almani, has been a member of al Qaeda since March of 2007, according to the German Federal Public Prosecutor.

Harrach worked part time at the Muhadshirin Mosque in Bonn, where he was recruited by al Qaeda scout Aleem Nasir, and received a letter of recommendation that opened doors to the terror network’s training camps. He is known to have received military training in an al Qaeda camp in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

Abu Ubaidah al Masri, al Qaeda’s external operations chief until his death in early 2008, assigned Harrach to his branch, which is tasked with striking at the West. Harrach quickly rose through the ranks and became a member of the external operations council, a senior US military intelligence official told The Long War Journal in October 2009.

Harrach has also become a senior propagandist for al Qaeda. In September 2009, Harrach released several propaganda videos that focused on the German elections. In one video, Harrach threatened to conduct attacks in German cities.

The US added Harrach to its list of specially designated global terrorists in October 2009 “for acting for or on behalf of al Qaeda.”

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • ConLima says:

    I have been waiting for “the freshman in the bad suit”

  • Brian says:

    He looks just like one of the Geiko cavemen. Definitely out of place in a suit. Good riddence.
    AQ must indeed be desperate if they are seeking guidance from such a youth.

  • Bungo says:

    “AQ must indeed be desperate if they are seeking guidance from such a youth.”
    That’s exactly what I was thinking. And, in truth, AQ probaly is getting a bit desperate for leaders because so many are getting bumped-off at an ever-increasing rate.
    The reports of this fellow’s demise may be from a recent request for familial DNA samples or the transfer from Germany to AfPak of such samples. Just a possibility not mentioned in the article.

  • Goatweed says:

    Is he a Turk, ethnic German, or something else with German citizenship?

  • kp says:


    Quote: “Bekkay Harrach was born on 09/04/1977 in Berkane, Morocco. He arrived to Germany in the late 90s’, is a German Muslim citizen, lived in Bonn district of Bad Godesberg and studied mathematics. Bekkay Harrach is married to a local German woman, Elisabeth, who converted to Islam.”

    Just 23 …


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