Travel Alert: U.S. Gov't Warns Americans About Germany Travel

Recent al Qaeda video threatened possible terror attack after upcoming election.

ByABC News
September 21, 2009, 1:08 PM

Sept. 23, 2009— -- The U.S. government is warning Americans traveling to Germany about possible terror attacks around the upcoming election.

In an official travel alert issued Wednesday, the State Department warns that "Al Qaeda has threatened it will conduct terrorist attacks in Germany immediately prior to and following the federal elections on September 27."


"Al Qaeda recently released a video specifically warning Germany of attacks. German authorities are taking the threat seriously and have taken measures to enhance the level of security throughout the country," the alert continues, urging U.S. citizens to keep a "heightened situational awareness and a low profile."

Al Qaeda has shown a willingness to attack around election periods in the past. In 2004, terrorists bombed commuter trains in Madrid ahead of the Spanish elections. The attacks were credited with pushing the opposition party, which favored withdrawing Spanish troops from Iraq, to victory.

On Monday, ABC News' The Blotter reported that Bekkay Harrach, a 32-year-old German citizen-turned-terrorist appeared in a recent video saying al Qaeda cells in Germany are poised to attack if next week's German election outcome is not to the terrorist group's liking.

Appearing in front of red curtains, Bekkay Harrach delivers the message to his former countrymen in clear and strident language in a 26 minute-long video.

"If the German people choose war, then they have delivered their own sentence," he said in the video.

Harrach, who was born in Morocco and raised in Germany, also warned German Muslims to avoid public places and avoid any activity that is not absolutely necessary for the two weeks following the election, if a party in favor of continuing the German presence in Afghanistan is elected.

"Keep your children close to you," he said to Muslims in Germany.

Harrach, with his shoulder-length black curly hair, looked more like an elegant European playboy than a terrorist. In previous videos, Harrach wore a black robe that covered his face.

Experts say they fear a person like Harrach with northern European features can more easily slip under the radar of counter-terrorism and law enforcement agents and the Transportation Security Administration in the United States.

"The overt traditional garb and long beard is going to raise a red flag. They are adapting to us reacting, investigating, and prosecuting," said Brad Garrett, former FBI who was involved with terrorism-related investigations for years and is now an ABC News consultant.

"Al Qaeda is becoming more criminally sophisticated and they are recruiting more non-Arabs," said Garrett.

Click Here for the Blotter Homepage.