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Uzbek Group Linked To Video Terror Threat Against Germany

The Islamic Jihad Union is widely believed to have ties to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.

The Islamic Jihad Union is widely believed to have ties to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.

(RFE/RL) -- Referring to Germany's involvement in international coalition operations in Afghanistan, six masked men claiming to be members of the Islamic Jihad Union in a video posted on the Internet say the group has prepared a "few surprise gifts for the occupation forces."

"The allies of the occupation powers must still reckon with our attacks," the message continues, according to Germany's ARD television.

Germany has some 3,300 troops stationed in Afghanistan's relatively safe northern areas as part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.

The video, apparently recorded in the middle of Israel's recent 22-day incursion into Gaza, also accuses German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the United States of failing to take action to stop that military operation.

It is the second threatening video directed at Germany in recent weeks.

The first, attributed to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), featured a German-speaking man warning that Germany would not escape unscathed for its role as the third-largest troop supplier in Afghanistan.

The video attributed to the Islamic Jihad Union, which is widely believed to have ties to the IMU, featured segments in multiple languages, including Turkish, Azeri, Russian, Kurdish, and German.

"We are looking at them seriously and so we can say that the quality of threats [against] Germany has risen a little bit the last [few] times," German Interior Ministry spokesman Stephan Paris told RFE/RL's Uzbek Service.

"In 2008 we found written German texts on the Internet, but at the start of 2009 came videos in the German language and especially saying that Germany is in the line of fire of the terrorists."

Paris added that one of the German-speaking men featured in the two videos appears to be a German citizen who has left the country to join terrorist groups along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Nick Pratt, the director of the antiterrorism program for George Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Germany, says German authorities are right to take the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) and its threats seriously.

"It's a group that has an history. It's a group that people haven't taken for granted. They have always mixed it up with other organizations. But it's real. I mean, it's not something that was made up. And it is something that we need to take seriously," Pratt says.

"So, what you do is you take the message, you distill the message, you send it out to everybody so people can add a little bit of situation awareness to their daily lives."

Terrorist Attacks

The IJU attracted attention in 2007 when German police said they thwarted a terrorist plot by the group.

Three suspected IJU affiliates, including two German converts to Islam and a Turkish man, were arrested in September 2007 on suspicion of planning attacks against U.S. facilities in Germany. The German Interior Ministry acknowledged the possibility that an IJU cell inside the country was behind the foiled plot.

Uzbek authorities claim the IJU was behind several terrorist attacks that took place in that country, including suicide bombings targeting the U.S. and Israeli embassies in Tashkent in July 2004.

At least three people died in those attacks.

RFE/RL's Uzbek Service contributed to this report