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Germany: Suspected Bin Laden Bodyguard Held for Deportation After Years of Safe Haven
By Isaac Stanley-Becker
The Washington Post
Every day, the suspected jihadist reports to the police station in Bochum, a city in the heart of the industrial Ruhr region of Germany, where he first arrived as a student in 1997. And every month, he collects about 1,200 euros, or about $1,400, in welfare payments, as Bild, Germany’s top-selling tabloid, announced breathlessly this spring. His wife and children are German citizens.
But on Monday, when he paid his daily visit to the police, he was detained, according to German media, in preparation for deportation. The Tunisian man could be mistaken for any other person whose quest for international protection has been threatened by Germany’s increasingly hard-line stance on migration, part of a backlash shaking Europe since Syria’s civil war sent millions of people fleeing for their lives. A similar dynamic is unfolding in the United States, as President Trump has demanded a border wall, separated families crossing the Southwest border and questioned the due process rights of undocumented immigrants.
Except for one crucial detail: Sami A., as he is identified in accordance with German privacy laws, stands accused of having served as a bodyguard for Osama bin Laden, the founding leader of al-Qaeda and the architect of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. The man denies ever having served in this role, and, despite the claims of some German officials, Sami A. does not appear on lists of bin Laden’s suspected bodyguards.
The 42-year-old man was investigated more than a decade ago for extremist ties, including alleged participation in military training in Afghanistan and service in a band of bin Laden’s guards. Owing to a lack of concrete evidence, federal prosecutors dropped the investigation in 2007.