Center for Strategic Communication


Samir Hatour. Image from the SITE Intelligence Group

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan released a martyrdom tape today praising a German member who was killed in a US drone strike in Pakistan over a year ago. The German, who was identified as Samir Hatour and was also known as Abu Laith, was killed by US drones in a strike in Makeen, South Waziristan, on March 9, 2012.

The IMU martydom tape, which is titled “The Martyr Abu Laith, The Lion with a Rock-Hard Creed,” was first released by Jundallah Studio, the IMU’s propaganda arm, on March 18. The SITE Intelligence Group obtained a copy of the video and provided a translation.

The video is narrated by Yassin and Mounir Chouka, two senior IMU leaders and propagandists who are also German citizens. Yassin, who is also known as Abu Ibrahim, and Mounir, who is also known as Abu Adam, were added to the US’s list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists in January 2012 [see LWJ report, US adds IMU, IJU operatives to list of global terrorists, for more details on the Chouka brothers].

“After a 40 day deployment in South Waziristan, on the morning of 9 March 2012, which was a Friday, Abu Laith [Hatour] went to his family, and on the way, the car in which he was along with three other mujahideen was fired upon by an American drone and the brothers died as martyrs,” Yassin said.

The US is known to have launched a drone strike on March 9, 2012 that killed 13 “militants,” including several foreign fighters. A house and a vehicle were targeted in the strike [see LWJ report, US drones kill at least 13 in South Waziristan strike]. Makeen is in an area under the control of Hakeemullah Mehsud, the leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, who is closely allied to al Qaeda and the IMU.

Hatour’s death was first reported killed in April 2012. The German press identified him as “Samir H.” The IMU statement confirms the reports of his death.

Hatour was from the German city of Aachen, according to Yassin.

“He grew up as the son of a Tunisian man and a converted German woman, and he spent his youth in a city that had all the criteria to be a center for unbelief, a society in which no one is ashamed in the daylight to {unclear}… gambling, prostitution, and being a cat’s leap to the coffee shops in Holland,” Yassin claimed, according to SITE.

Hatour traveled to Saudi Arabia and studied at the Islamic University in Medina “and with thousands of students from all over the world the Islamic Shariah.” He then spent some time in Egypt, where he was recruited to wage jihad in Pakistan.

“One day in the winter of 2009, Abu Laith’s phone rang and words reached his ears about a path to jihad,” Yassin claimed. To get to Pakistan, Hatour started a business that dealt with Pakistani products, then used the business as cover to enter the country.

Yassin held up Hatour as “a counter-argument” against the common narrative that jihadists are from poor, uneducated backgrounds.

“[H]e was a graduate, very successful in life, and he was an Islamic student in Medina and later in Egypt, and he was specialized in the Arabic language and professionally translated Islamic literature into German,” Yassin said.

Other IMU operatives also featured in martyrdom video

A number of prominent IMU members as well as a trainer and fighters praised Hatour. Among them are Abu Dher Azzam, the top mufti or religious scholar for the IMU; Russian IMU commander Abdul Hakeem; a military trainer identified as Khaled Qutaiba; and a Tunisian fighter who is known as Abu al Walid al Tunisi.

The videotape also included “[p]ictures and clips of seven slain German fighters” who were identifed as “Abdul Ghaffar (AKA Eric Breininger) from Neunkirchen, Abu Safiyya from Bonn, Miqdad from Essen, Cuneyt Ciftci from Ansback, Farooq from Bochum, Abu Askar from Hamburg, and Ahmed from Setterich,” SITE reported.

Ahmed, a Moroccan who lived in Germany, was praised by the IMU last month. He died in a drone strike in October 2012. Miqdad was killed while fighting US forces in Baghlan, Afghanistan in 2011. Breininger, who was wanted by Germany for plotting to attack US forces in 2008, was killed while fighting the Pakistani military in 2010. Abu Askar was killed in a US drone strike in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan in 2010. And Cuneyt Ciftci was killed while conducting a suicide attack on NATO forces in Afghanistan in 2008 (he was listed as an Islamic Jihad Union fighter, which is an offshoot of the IMU).

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan is closely allied to al Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban, and the Afghan Taliban. The group fights in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. In Afghanistan, it has closely integrated its operations with the Taliban in the north. ISAF routinely targets the IMU in raids in the Afghan north; 18 such operations have been recorded by ISAF so far this year.

Germans IMU fighters have been captured in Afghanistan. In July 2010, Ahmed Siddiqi, a German from Hamburg, was captured in Kabul. Siddiqi, who disclosed the al Qaeda plot to carry out Mumbai-styled terror assaults in Europe, had trained in Pakistan and fought in Afghanistan. And on May 9, 2011, ISAF captured a “Germany-based Moroccan al Qaeda foreign fighter facilitator” in Zabul in southeastern Afghanistan.