Where is Haydar Zammar?


DAMASCUS/BERLIN/TEHERAN (Own report) - Following accusations of profiting indirectly from the war on Iraq, the German foreign minister is now being held responsible for tolerating serious crimes of torture on a German citizen. The torture victim, from Hamburg, was abducted in December 2001 and taken to Damascus, where, on behalf of US authorities, he was submitted to severe maltreatment. In November 2002, officials of the Bundeskriminalamt (BKA, the German federal criminal investigating police), the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV, Germany's domestic intelligence service) and the Federal Intelligence Service (BND, German foreign intelligence) paid a visit to the Syrian torture prison - not to have the abducted liberated, but in order to interrogate him, being in accord with the torture. The victim was then left to his fate. It is unknown, whether the German citizen, Haydar Zammar, is still alive. The operation carried out against Zammar, was supervised by the director of the German Chancellery, at the time, Frank Walter Steinmeier, who has become the new German foreign minister.

The German secret service operation in Damascus had been exposed September 16, 2005, in the German journal, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, without arousing much interest.[1] Likewise the November 5, 2005, story based on added information provided by sources within German security circles, published here by german-foreign-policy.com, passed also largely unheeded.[2] Even after more details have come to light,[3] the leading press organs continue to avoid naming the names of those politically responsible - at the top of the list, Frank Walter Steinmeier, Director of the Chancellery, (ChBK) at the time.


During the period in question, Steinmeier, who from "Section VI," in the Chancellery supervised all German intelligence services, had to either approve or reject all operations of this magnitude. Given the fact that Steinmeier has undertaken no measures to liberate this victim from his torture, tends to confirm the information that Haydar Zammar has been classified as "missing." Even a potential deception of Steinmeier, by his subordinate, the Intelligence Coordinator, Ernst Uhrlau, would not exonerate the former ChBK. Steinmeier, being the commander, at the highest level, bears full responsibility.


In the case of the Zammar's abduction, whose German government's institutions abandoned him to torture, the suspicion of premeditated constitutional violations falls not solely upon the Chancellery. The foreign ministry's nebulous justifications lead one to suspect that it also had deliberately forsaken its duties. In an initial statement of the foreign ministry (AA), one reads that an attempt was made to obtain from the officials in Damascus a visiting permit to the torture prison, they regrettably were rejected access to Zammar. This is as if the crimes of torture, which stand, also in Syria, under indictment would not have been influenced by inquiries from the German embassy. The AA does not mention the fact that in the German diplomatic mission, there are those employees, who foster the contacts to the Syrian torture apparatus. "If a member of the German secret service claims, that he was not informed of the charges of Syrian officials using torture, that would be absolutely beyond belief" is how Amnesty International (ai) responded to an inquiry from german-foreign-policy.com.[4] This was confirmed in the German Embassy. According to this confirmation, German officials, known as "attachés", but not necessarily classified as being among the diplomatic personnel, hang out in the plush Riad-Street. What do they know of the fate of the torture victim? Why have they not been able or willing to pressure their Syrian contacts to halt the maltreatment?


Answers to these questions could be furnished by the criminal detective supervisor, Ralph Trede. Trede is employed at the German federal criminal police (BKA), the institution that claims to be unaware of the crimes involving torture being carried out on the German citizen, Zammar. But, through Trede, the BKA knows very well about the torture charges.[5] Following his special mission to the Middle East, having also to do with the interrogation of alleged Islamists, Trede reported in writing to his supervisors, that he saw traces produced by torture and suspected that the partner service used electro-shocks. Soon thereafter, he was suspended from service, allegedly because of a too expensive telephone bill left behind in Beirut, his place of mission. Or was it because of his protest against torture, that the BKA Director, Joerg Ziercke would like to suppress? Ziercke, himself, belongs to the inner circle of those decision makers, who met in the Chancellery with Steinmeier to evaluate the incoming intelligence from secret service operations. What do Ziercke and Steinmeier know of this cooperation with Syrian torture officials?

A Share

That Syrian officials are at the service of Western secret service circles, offering their services in the crimes of torture, is known since the abductions of several Canadian citizens.[6] In the case of the torture victim, Abdullah Almaki, the supposed contractors from the USA went to Damascus and provided the finishing touches to the interrogation protocol - the Syrian inquisition had prepared false confessions. The subversive cooperation seems in contradiction to the political confrontation between the two states, but nourishes their common interests in the Middle East. While both sides seek basically to preserve the status quo and are apprehensive of an Arab upheaval, they are rivals over their respective share of the benefits from the resources and zones of influence.


Syrian support for Western anti-terror campaign serves as confidence building measures between the governments' institutions and both are ruthless. It is unknown whether Haydar Zammar is still alive. Information concerning the German's situation could be furnished by the new German Foreign Minister, the former Director of the Federal Chancellery.

[1] Fahndung mit Fallstricken; Süddeutsche Zeitung 16.09.2005
[2] see also Berlin is keeping quiet
[3] Der vergessene Gefangene; Der Spiegel 21.11.2005
[4] ai-Nahost-Expertin Ruth Jüttner im Gespräch mit dieser Redaktion
[5] Fahndung mit Fallstricken; Süddeutsche Zeitung 16.09.2005
[6] Amnesty International Canada: www.amnesty.ca/take_action/actions/canada_foreign_detention.php

see also Bloßgestellt