Germany: Memoirs of a German Jihadi

Germany: Memoirs of a German Jihadi

Links to the memoirs were posted online on German-language Jihadi forums.


It is a document from the heart of the jihad: Eric Breininger, a German homegrown terrorist recently killed in Pakistan, worked on his memoirs until just days before his death. On Wednesday, the document was posted on the Internet.

"So much is written and said about me, with my given name Eric Breininger. The Internet and the media are full of it, but most of it is made up and lies."

So begin the memoirs of Eric Breininger, the German jihadist who was killed by Pakistani soldiers in the border region of Waziristan at the end of April. His autobiography was posted on the Internet on Wednesday.

Right from the first pages, it seems as though Breininger, who went by the name Abdul Gaffar Almani, knew that death was near. "Even as this work is being composed, I am not sure that it will ever be completed, as we find ourselves at war." The appendix, written by a comrade, makes it clear that Breininger worked on his memoirs until just a few days prior to his death.

Breininger called his memoirs "My Path to Jenna," using the Arabic word for "paradise." And it is an impressive document, offering a detailed look into militant jihadism. It is an account of the day-to-day life of radical Islamists fighting in the Hindu Kush and an intimate look at the thoughts of a radical who is certain he is in the right.

Breininger was an associate of the so-called Sauerland Cell, a group of German radicals who plotted to bomb US targets in Germany in 2007. Confessions from that group have provided an excellent source for insights into German jihadists fighting in the border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Breininger's autobiography sheds even more light on their activities and thoughts.

A Sweeping Document

The authenticity of the document has not yet been verified, but there are many indications that it is genuine. It was posted on a well-known Jihadist website and the appendix includes a photo allegedly of Breininger's corpse. Furthermore, the document includes details that could only be known by Breininger and which are partially confirmed by other sources.

Still, there is room for doubt. The text is relatively clean and well-written and includes numerous footnotes -- a departure from the somewhat sloppy style of the propaganda videos Breininger made for the Islamic Jihad Union. German security officials are currently evaluating the text. One possible explanation for the more professional style is that it could have been narrated by Breininger but taken down by a second party. Nevertheless, it is seen as likely that the text originates with the German jihadist -- thus making it a document of great interest for German intelligence.

It is a sweeping document that Breininger has left behind. It starts with his first existential questions as a teenager and his initial meetings with a devout Muslim, who eventually convinced him to convert. It provides a look at his rapid radicalization, his path to the battlefield and his residence in the house occupied by a suicide bomber brigade. It includes scenes from his participation in battles against the "kuffar," the infidels.

"I had only been in Islam for four months," he wrote of the final weeks of his life in Germany in the summer of 2007. "Still, I knew my duty. I wanted to join the jihad.... We followed the events which were unfolding in the regions of jihad and watched films of mujahedeen battling the crusaders.... Hate of the kuffar grew in me," he writes.


Just how rambling and radical Breininger is, despite his efforts in the book to appear thoughtful, becomes apparent in the last passage of his memoirs. The children present in the group's camp would, he writes, "with Allah's permission," become "a very special group of terrorists that appear in no database or list created by the enemies of Allah. They would speak the language of the enemy, they would know their customs and traditions and because of their appearance could easily disguise themselves and thus easily infiltrate the countries of the kuffar ... where they could carry out one operation after another against the enemies of Allah and sow terror in their hearts."

It marks the end of a long path from a German youth trying to find his way -- one who went to parties, drank alcohol and had a girlfriend. Breininger writes at the beginning of his autobiography, "I lived exactly the kind of life that every young person in the West wants to live. But I couldn't see any meaning."

Despite being full of pseudo-religious passages penned primarily for propaganda purposes, Breininger's memoirs are important for the insight they provide into a world that would otherwise be difficult to understand. But one question remains unanswered: Why the jihad represents an answer to the search for meaning in life. Breininger's death, his comrades write in the appendix, came after being fired on by soldiers. He was hit by several bullets, they write.

The day after the battle, the mujahedeen retrieved his body and laid him to rest.


Source: Spiegel (English)

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