Ex-Bodyguard of Osama bin Laden Must Be Returned to Germany

Ex-Leibwächter Osama bin Ladens Sami A., soll nach Deutschland zurückgeholt werden  Berliner Zeitung, 13th July 2018. Gelsenkirchen [Nordrhein – Westfalen].  The alleged former bodyguard of Osama bin Laden, who has been deported to Tunisia, must be brought back to Germany by court order. The deportation of the Tunisian, Sami A., classified “Islamist” and a danger to the public, was “grossly unlawful” and violated “fundamental principles of the rule of law”, according to a resolution passed on Friday [13th July] by the Administrative Court of Gelsenkirchen. The deportation must therefore be “reversed by the foreign [Tunisian] authorities”.

The Administrative Court had decided on Thursday [12th July] that Sami A. may not be deported. The reason given was that there was no “diplomatically binding assurance from the Tunisian government” that A. would not be threatened with torture in the North African country. Nevertheless, the Tunisian was flown to Tunisia on Friday morning, where he was handed over to the country’s authorities and taken into custody. The court explained on Friday afternoon, that at the time the announcement of its decision was made to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (Bamf), the deportation had not been implemented and therefore must be cancelled. Nevertheless, it had been wilfully carried out.

The ruling had reached Bamf one-and-a-half hours too late. The court informed the Bamf of the deportation ban on the Friday morning. The decision of Thursday evening was faxed to Bamf at 08:27, said a court spokesman: that is, one-and-a-half hours too late. The Bamf reports to the Federal Ministry of the Interior (Bundesinnenministerium, BMI). A BMI spokeswoman said that in general, if the authorities are aware of a court order staying execution of a deportation, then that deportation cannot be carried out. The Federal Ministry of the Interior had “supported” the North Rhine Westphalia [NRW] authorities in this deportation case, added the spokeswoman. The decision lay with NRW. The Federal Interior Minister, Horst Seehofer [Christian Social Union] had vigorously campaigned in favour of the deportation.

Sami A. had come to study in Germany in 1997. In 2000, he is said to have received military training in an Al-Qaeda camp in Afghanistan, and from time to time to have been one of Osama bin Laden’s bodyguards. After bin Laden’s death, Sami A. is said to have been active in Germany as a Salafist preacher. The Tunisian had always denied these allegations. The Federal Prosecutor’s Office [Bundesanwaltschaft] initiated a criminal investigation against him, but set it aside for lack of sufficient evidence. The Tunisian had been on the point of deportation since 2014, when the Bamf first lifted a deportation ban, but Sami A. had thus far successfully defended himself in court. In June 2018, the Bamf again lifted the deportation ban.

Terrorism expert: “I think that’s reasonable”. The chairman of the Anis-Amri investigating committee in the Bundestag [attack on the Breitscheidplatz, Berlin], Armin Schuster (Christian Democratic Union), told this newspaper: “With all due respect to the zeal of the Gelsenkirchen Administrative Court, I should have been grateful if a higher court had challenged its decision. In any case, I am against Sami A. being returned [to Germany] before the decision has been reviewed by a different court. I’m not losing any sleep over it. After all, people with Al-Qaeda training are a threat to the public and should be removed from the country.

Guido Steinberg, a terrorism expert with the Science and Politics Foundation [Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik], said earlier: “In response to the refugee crisis and the attack on the Breitscheidplatz, we are seeing a much stricter approach to the deportation of jihadists. I think that’s reasonable. And in general, I have no problem with deportations to Tunisia, because it has developed as a state.” Steinberg continued: “This case also shows us how lax the Federal Republic used to be. This has led to a significant worsening of the security situation since 2015, the climax being the attack on the Breitscheidplatz”. The attacker, Anis-Amri, also came from Tunisia, and despite innumerable suspicions and criminal acts, was never deported. Berliner Zeitung