Taliban to Germany: Leave Afghanistan or lose Oktoberfest

The insurgents' threat to bomb the famous festival is apparently meant to weaken Germany's resolve for the fight in Afghanistan. It follows similar warnings issued by the Taliban and Al Qaeda ahead of Sunday's elections.

The Taliban have a new target: beer and bratwurst.

In perhaps their most bizarre threat to date, Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan have threatened to bomb the Oktoberfest festival in Munich, Germany, which attracts millions of visitors ever year, along with several landmark buildings and government officials.

The threats, while perhaps farfetched, follow a series of warnings from the Taliban and Al Qaeda and underscores a concerted effort by the insurgents to weaken Germany’s resolve for the fight in Afghanistan.

Germany has responded by banning all air flights over Munich for the rest of the 16-day festival, which ends Oct. 4.

The threats were delivered in a series of videotapes issued by the Taliban on Friday, the Guardian reported. One features a German-speaking militant named Ajjub.

The videos coincide with a recent warning to Germany issued by Osama Bin Laden, delivered in Arabic with German subtitles, as The Christian Science Monitor reported.

In fact, for the past two weeks, in the runup to Germany’s elections on Sunday, the Taliban and Al Qaeda have issued several messages, as Germany’s Deutsche Welle news service reports.

Whether the Taliban have the capacity to carry out an international terrorist attack remains to be seen. To date, their attacks have all taken place in Afghanistan, or in Pakistan by related militant groups.

The messages are meant to play upon deep divisions in Germany between the government and the public over the war in Afghanistan. Germany has 4,200 troops in Afghanistan, and 35 have been killed since 2002. Most political parties are committed to continuing the mission. But public support for the war effort has flagged, and took a particular dive after a September airstrike in Afghanistan – called in by German troops and executed by American planes – left dozens of civilians dead. Polls suggest that the German public wants to reduce or pull out altogether its troops on the ground.

Noting that dismay, German political parties tried to keep the Afghan mission out of political debates, reports Radio Free Europe. But now that the elections are over, the debate is likely to return to the fore.

In an editorial last week, the Christian Science Monitor advised:

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