"Sam", the German Torture Envoy

BERLIN/SKOPJE/KABUL | | mazedonien

BERLIN/SKOPJE/KABUL (Own report) - A German victim of systematic torture, at the hands of US officials in Afghanistan, accuses the agent, Gerhard L., of the Federal Bureau of Criminal Investigations (BKA) to have, under orders, committed grave violations of human rights and violations of the Constitution. The accused is a high-ranking officer in the BKA, with an "extraordinary closeness to the Federal Intelligence Service" (BND) and is considered a "man for doing the dirty work". The torture victim is a German, from the city of Ulm, Khaled el-Masri, who had been kidnapped from the streets in December 2003, and following his illegal arrest in Macedonia, deported to Afghanistan. There, in a US-run prison, CIA operatives submitted him to violent interrogations and consulted with a German speaking specialist, who called himself "Sam". According to Khaled el-Masri "Sam" is none other than the notorious Gerhard L., who had also been identified during BKA secret operations in Beirut. The BKA agent denies having been an accomplice to the crime. Although it is accused of cooperating with US authorities and having remained inactive, in spite of knowing of el-Masri's illegal arrest, the German Embassy in Macedonia claims not to remember of abetting in the crime and refusing assistance to the German victim.

The German Government had hoped its information offensive would prevent a parliamentary committee of inquiry into the legwork furnished by the BKA and BND leading to human rights violations and crimes under international law. In this endeavor, the government was supported by members of the opposition, who have to fear exposure of their own participation in the assault on the Iraq and the international torture regime. Not only those areas of responsibility attributed to the former Interior Minister, Otto Schily (SPD), and the former Chancellery Director, Frank Walter Steinmeier (SPD), but the officiating Foreign Minister, at that time, Josef Fischer (Greens), is also presumed to have been personally involved in the crimes.[1] The parliamentarian, Hans Christian Stroebele (Greens) still seemed confident a few days ago, when he declared a parliamentary committee of inquiry to be obsolete.

Thwarted

Parliamentarians spread the word Tuesday, over press organs favorable to the government, that one could expect self-critical insights in Wednesday's confidential executive report. In reference to the oddities surrounding the abduction and torture of Khaled el-Masri, the report speaks of an "ominous, German-speaking US secret service agent, who is alleged to have been involved in el-Masri's interrogation in Afghanistan." He could neither be identified in the government report nor "could information be solicited before the committee of inquiry."[2] Now it turns out, that the identification had already taken place on Monday which reveals how ridiculous the official government tactics are.

Nervous

As the lawyer of the kidnap victim confirmed to german-foreign-policy.com, the "German-speaking US secret service agent," who had helped the torturers, had been recognized by his client, first of all, in a photo and then pointed him out, in a police lineup, on Monday, as a BKA agent. He is "90 per cent" sure that "Sam" and Gerhard L. [3] are one and the same person, said Khaled el-Masri, after he could speak with the accused. Today L. has a bit more gray hair and somewhat more of a pot-belly than "Sam" had had approximately two years ago, besides, he was unusually nervous and could "not look [me] in the eye", reports Mr. el-El-Masri about the only differences to his recollections.[4]

Time Off

BKA "special investigator" L. denies any participation in the interrogations in Afghanistan. Concerning L., the former BND Director, August Hanning, declares: "He has never been in Afghanistan." At the time in question, Gerhard L alleges to have been "on vacation" without knowing, at the moment, where he spent his time off. This statement corresponds to the pattern of official government protection statements of the past few weeks. According to the duty roster, neither BKA nor BND officials were on the scene at the time in question, is the formulation of the prototype statements. Whether or not off-duty German agents, allegedly in their spare time, were available for exercises in torture, carried out by the CIA, is left open by the executive (providing the government a political alibi, in case it later becomes known).

Torture

Gerhard L. has been dispatched on numerous secret operations by the German government and because of their international dimensions. is, in the meantime, also known by his real name.[5] At the end of last year, the German press published a photo of Gerhard L., that is even now still accessible over internet. Upon inquiry, the BKA informed german-foreign-policy.com on Tuesday, that they nevertheless insist upon anonymity. Further information was refused by the authorities. Gerhard L is one of the BKA's top agents. BKA informants have characterized him, in conversations with German foreign policy.com, as the "man for doing the dirty work." According to witnesses L was in Beirut in the summer of 2002 and cooperated with the BKA liaison officer in the Lebanese capital. Research by german-foreign-policy.com divulged that L. was entrusted with a mission for the Berlin senior public prosecutor, Detlev Mehlis, and was thereby in contact with both a French secret service as well as the Jordanian secret service the "General Intelligence Department" (GID). Gerhard L. and Mehlis are accused of having introduced declarations, obtained by the GID - an authority notorious for their use of torture - into a German legal proceeding.

Lies

In view of the recent suspicions, the BKA and the former Interior Minister, Otto Schily, are again coming under pressure. Recently members of the parliamentary control committee made known that the interrogation by BKA officials of the German citizen, Haydar Zammar, in a Syrian torture prison, was carried out on Schily's expressed wishs.[6], The interrogations in Lebanon, carried out by the BKA, accused of knowingly having cooperated with the torture agents, also fell within Schily's area of responsibility.[7] If BKA's complicity in the el-Masri case is confirmed, it would also be the first case of cooperation with torture authorities, that falls within the incumbency of the current president of the BKA, Joerg Ziercke. Ziercke is accused of not having had similar cases investigated, that had been committed during his predecessor, Klaus Ulrich Kersten's term of office.[8] A BKA witness accuses Ziercke, of also having lied to the Federal Parliament's interior policy committee.

Unofficial

The Foreign Ministry and its former minister, Josef Fischer, are also being accused of implication in the el-Masri case. As the New York Times, Tuesday, writes, Macedonian officials had already informed the German Embassy in Skopje at the beginning of January 2004 about el-Masri's kidnapping. "Unofficially they knew," a senior Macedonian official concerned with the case confirmed to the US journal.[9] Up to now, the Foreign Ministry, denies knowing of the German's abduction before he was about to be released at the end of May 2004.

Susceptible to Blackmail

As with disclosures in January, revealing the direct participation of German foreign intelligence in the assault on Iraq [10], the recent disclosures also come at an extremely unfavorable time for the German government. With partial confessions, the government was hoping to distract from the full extent of its complicity in the crimes and otherwise refer the blame to the USA. Thus the "confidential" report, presented on Wednesday, contains passages accusing US authorities of having eavesdropped on German agents in Baghdad, who thereby unwittingly became suppliers of important intelligence for the war. These flimsy allegations were rejected by US and answered with juicy details over the arsenal of German secret service work. Each new disclosure reveals the German government's susceptibility to blackmail. To a large extent, its security apparatus leads an uncontrolled, independent existence and on the operational level, is no longer exclusively subordinate to the sovereign authority of the Federal Republic of Germany.

[1] see also In Accordance With the Law
[2] LVZ: US-Nachrichtendienst hat BND-Agenten in Bagdad abgehört; Pressemitteilung der Leipziger Volkszeitung 21.02.2006
[3] Masri will "Sam" erkannt haben; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 22.02.2006
[4] Dies berichten el-Masris Anwalt sowie die New York Times: Germany Weighs if It Played Role in Seizure by U.S.; The New York Times 21.02.2006
[5] Masri will "Sam" erkannt haben; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 22.02.2006
[6] LVZ: US-Nachrichtendienst hat BND-Agenten in Bagdad abgehört; Pressemitteilung der Leipziger Volkszeitung 21.02.2006. See also Where is Haydar Zammar?
[7], [8] see also Täuschen und lügen, The Torturers, And Still Waiting and Ohne Gericht, ohne Urteil
[9] Germany Weighs if It Played Role in Seizure by U.S.; The New York Times 21.02.2006
[10] see also The Results Were Deadly and Außer Kontrolle

see also Wer ist "Sam", der deutsche Foltergesandte?, Gespräch mit Rechtsanwalt Manfred Gnjidic, "Abgrundtiefe Doppelzüngigkeit" and Lapse into Barbarism