January 25, 2007

German Intelligence Working With Iraqi Terrorists?

Some of you may remember, a German archaeologists held hostage briefly in Iraq. She was released amongst a number of rumors that ransom had been paid. There was even some indication that she had collaborated with her hostage takers, because some of the marked money was allegedly found on her after she was free. Now, more indication that she may have been complicit in her own kidnapping, and at least two secret agents from the German government as well.

Wherever the truth lies, it's a strange case. And it is now certain that, despite denials of it, German intelligence had a presence on the ground during and after the Iraq invasion.

John Rosenthal sends me his article from World Politics Watch:

What exactly is the German foreign intelligence service, the BND, doing in Iraq? Although the public has had occasion to be aware of the BND presence, up until now most will have been led to believe that the BND has been "quietly" cooperating with American and coalition authorities. Even more skeptical observers will have assumed that it is at least not cooperating with America's enemies in the country. But a photograph published earlier this month in the German weekly Stern provides disturbing evidence that it is doing precisely that....

The Iraqi "host" has been identified as Sheikh Jamal Al-Dulaimi; the other two men as agents of the BND, the German equivalent of the CIA. As it happens, Al-Dulaimi is regarded by Germany's Federal Office of Criminal Investigations (BKA), the German equivalent of the FBI, as the principal suspect in the alleged 2005 kidnapping in Iraq of German archaeologist Susanne Osthoff. Osthoff disappeared -- supposedly taken hostage by a hitherto unknown "resistance" group with the colorful name "Stormtroops of the Earthquake" -- on Nov. 25, 2005. According to the Stern account, the photo of Dulaimi and the two BND agents was taken on Nov. 24: the day before the kidnapping....

The newly published photo reveals, however, that it was not only Osthoff who had amiable contact to the chief suspect in her "kidnapping," Al-Dulaimi, but also local agents of the German BND. Osthoff is known in turn to have had extensive -- and, on her own account, highly amiable -- contacts with local BND agents in Baghdad. It was indeed the Osthoff case that first brought the BND presence in Iraq to public attention, when reports of these contacts surfaced. Osthoff was surely not herself a BND agent, as a sensational UPI headline from January of last year implied, but she does appear to have served as an informant for the agency: in particular -- and again, on her own account -- passing information to her BND "friends" on impending terror attacks. It was her "duty as a German," she said. That she was privy to such information is yet another indication of her proximity to local terror milieus.

Wow, read the rest.

UPDATE: I forgot to open a blockquote, which when I first published this post made it seem that much of what had been written by John Rosenthal had been written by me. My bad, sorry. So, neither the investigation nor the conclusions from it are "mine".

For more, see our extensive Susan Osthoff archives.

Related:

Susanne Osthoff Hostage Taking a Hoax?
Hostage Susanne Osthoff Was German Intelligence Agent
Did The Germans Cave? German Trade-off Suspected in Release of Terrorist Killer
German Archaeologist Susanne Osthoff Taken Hostage in Iraq

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 08:37 PM | Comments |

January 21, 2006

Susanne Osthoff Hostage Taking a Hoax?

As the details of now released German hostage Susanne Osthoff emerge, the tale gets stranger and stranger. Remember, Ms. Osthoff was a convert to Islam and was in Iraq prior to the invasion. It was Susanne Osthoff who was one of those crying foul over all the looting of historical treasures from Iraqi museums, something that we now know was not nearly as severe as she and others made out. After a ransom was paid for her, news reports indicated that she may have been a German spy. At the time, I thought that might explain why she seemed to be so sympathetic to her hostage takers.

Now, it turns out that Susanne Osthoff may have been complicit in her own kidnapping and that she was helping terrorist forces in Iraq.

Via Charles Johnson at LGF this Reuters story:

Part of the ransom money alleged to have been paid by the German government to win the freedom of Iraq hostage Susanne Osthoff last month was found on Osthoff after her release, the German magazine Focus said on Saturday.

Without citing its sources, Focus said officials at the German embassy in Baghdad had found several thousand U.S. dollars in the 43-year-old German archaeologist's clothes when she took a shower at the embassy shortly after being freed.

The serial numbers on the bills matched those used by the government to pay off Osthoff's kidnappers, the magazine said.

I would love to give Ms. Osthoff the benefit of the doubt. If there is another explanation for why part of the ransom money turned up in her possesion, I would love to hear it.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 03:40 PM | Comments |

January 09, 2006

Hostage Susanne Osthoff Was German Intelligence Agent

From United Press International (via The Reid Report):

WASHINGTON, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- Susanne Osthoff, the German archeologist kidnapped by Iraqi gunmen on Nov. 25 and released before Christmas was connected with her country's intelligence service, the BND, and had helped arrange a meeting with a top member of the terrorist organization al-Qaida, possibly Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi himself, according to well informed German sources Sunday.

The sources confirmed German press reports that the 43-year-old woman had worked for the BND in Iraq on a freelance basis, and had for some time even stayed in a German intelligence safe house in Baghdad.

A convert to Islam and a fluent Arabic speaker, Osthoff had lived in Iraq for over a decade, and was at one time married to an Iraqi. Archeology is a classic intelligence cover: T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) posed as an archeologist in the Middle East in the early part of the last century. But archeology is Osthoff's real profession. One Washington-based German source said Osthoff had been working on arranging a rendezvous with an al-Qaida member on behalf of a German intelligence agent in Iraq. Whether the meeting ever took place has not been revealed, but another source in Berlin, reached by telephone, said experts believed that the kidnapping may have been the work of a rival group, possibly within the same organization.

A day after Osthoff's release, the Germans had quietly freed and sent home to his native Lebanon Mohammed Ali Hamadi, a Hezbollah militant serving a sentence for killing a U.S. Navy diver in a hijacked TWA jetliner in 1985.

The UPI story also says that new German Chancellor Angela Merkel paid a ransom for Osthoff in addition to releasing Hamadi. Supposedly German intelligence is "cooperating with U.S. counterparts", but, given German duplicity in the Iraqi oil-for-food scandal, and near total intransigence in the GWOT, it begs the question how much cooperation is actually taking place.

Also posted at The Dread Pundit Bluto.

By Bluto07:00 PM | Comments |

December 26, 2005

Should We Be Surprised?

Giuliana Srgena, eat your heart out.

Well, I can tell you this much, if something bad should happen to Frau Osthoff, it wouldn't garner anywhere near the empathy I still tenaciously cling to for the CPT hostages.

By Vinnie at 06:40 PM | Comments |

December 22, 2005

Did The Germans Cave?

German Trade-off Suspected in Release of Terrorist Killer

(CNSNews.com) - Germany freed the murderer of a U.S. Navy diver despite personal intervention by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the State Department has confirmed, amid speculation that Berlin let the Hizballah terrorist go as part of a deal to free a German hostage in Iraq.

Mohammed Ali Hamadi flew to Lebanon after being released last week, 18 years after he was sentenced to "life" imprisonment for hijacking a U.S. airliner in 1985 and killing 23-year-old Petty Officer Robert Stethem.

Lebanon does not have an extradition treaty with the U.S., and Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora appeared unmoved Wednesday by American requests that Hamadi be handed over. (snip)

Hamadi reportedly flew to Lebanon last Thursday. Three days later, Berlin announced that Susanne Osthoff, an archaeologist taken hostage in Iraq on Nov. 25, was safely in German hands.

"Several officials have said Osthoff's release did not involve paying ransom money, but was rather a 'diplomatic gesture.' It remains a source of speculation what that gesture was."

Officials declined to provide details of the negotiations with the hostage-takers. Deputy Foreign Minister Gernot Erler said Monday that doing so could benefit the perpetrators of future kidnappings.

The perps have already "benefitted" Mr Erler as now they are aware that the German government will trade high value terrorist murderers for hostages.

Companion OpiniPundit

By at 10:53 AM | Comments |

December 12, 2005

Talabani Doesn't Believe German Hostage Will Be Killed

Perhaps a case of whistling past the graveyard, but Iraqi President Jalal Talabani thinks that German hostage Susanne Osthoff will not be killed. Osthoff is an archaeologist abducted nearly two weeks ago. From United Press International:

"There is no reason or motive for terrorists to kill a German citizen," he said in a television interview Sunday night. "Germany did not have any troops here and did not take part in the war."

"We have tried our best to find out where she is and which group is behind the kidnapping," he told German public TV station ARD, adding that he deemed it helpful for German politicians to continue to speak publicly about the kidnapping.

Unfortunately, terrorists do a lot of things without rational reason or motive, but we can only hope that Talabani is right on this.

Osthoff's kidnapping has been overshadowed in the news by the abductions of the four Christian Peacemaker Teams members.

Also posted at The Dread Pundit Bluto.

By Bluto01:10 PM | Comments |

November 30, 2005

New Chancellor: Germany Will Not Negotiate with Terrorists

The first female Chancellor in German history has come out shooting. In a 180 degree turnaround from her predecessor, the first words out of Angela Merkel's mouth to the newly constituted parliament:

"This government, this parliament will not let itself be blackmailed," Merkel said. "It (terrorism) is directed at everything that is important to us, at the core of our civilization. It is directed against our entire value system."
Merkel's statement was directed toward terrorists who have threatened to murder German archaeologist Susanne Osthoff. The terrorists have threatened to murder Osthoff if Germany does not stop cooperating with the U.N. sanctioned Iraqi governemnt.

Can some one please tell me how any one in the MSM--in even the most conservative of publications--can call a group or an individual threatenting to murder a hostage a 'militant'?

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 01:28 PM | Comments |

November 29, 2005

German Archaeologist Susanne Osthoff Taken Hostage in Iraq

Susanne_Osthoff_hostage_iraq_small.jpgThe Jawa Report has learned that the name of the German woman shown in a hostage video is Susanne Osthoff. Osthoff is an archaeologist working in Iraq and was abducted with her driver last Friday. Osthoff was presumably working on a dig at the ruins of Isin when she was abducted.

UPDATE: Chad at In the Bullpen e-mails me about a NY Times report that Osthoff had been targetted by Abu Musab al Zarqawi's al Qaeda in Iraq over the summer. If she has been abducted by al Qaeda then her only hope lies in a quick rescue and your prayers.

After news of Ms. Osthoff's kidnapping became known here, a German newspaper, the Neue Osnabrücker Zeiting, reported that Ms. Osthoff had been targeted by extremist groups close to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi during the summer, when she was living in Mosul in northern Iraq. At the time, the newspaper said, Ms. Osthoff was escorted by American soldiers to Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone. Since then, Ms. Osthoff has been negotiating both with the German Embassy in Baghdad and the local Kurdish-dominated government in the northern town of Arbil to build a German cultural center there, the newspaper said.
Osthoff was active in documenting archealogical sites looted in Iraq after the U.S. led invasion and was widely quoted in the media at the time.

More information about Susan Osthoff below and in the Susan Osthoff archives.

In a 2003 NY Times piece Osthoff says:

"In two weeks, they have ruined all the work that was done over 15 years," said Susanne Osthoff, an archaeologist who worked with a German team that excavated at Isin from the mid-1970's until 1989....

Ms. Osthoff, who returned to Iraq shortly before American forces overthrew the government of Mr. Hussein, was alerted by local villagers who were horrified by the destruction at Isin.

Protected by old friends, Ms. Osthoff waded into the mob of heavily-armed diggers four days ago and then escorted two journalists to the site again on Wednesday.

"They [the looters] are poor people, and they are desperate to make some money," she said today. "But they do not understand what they are doing."

According to ADNKI , Osthoff was abducted with her driver near Ninevah.

Further:

The kidnappers sent a video to the broadcaster's offices in Baghdad in which they showed the hostages and threatened to kill the woman if the German government does not suspend every form of cooperation with the Iraqi government.

The video shows a woman and a man blindfolded and on their knees. Nearby are three armed men with their faces covered. The woman has a chain around her neck, with her passport attached to it.

The German Foreign Ministry has confirmed that the archaeologist and her driver have been missing since Friday. "We are doing everything possible to guarantee the safety of the woman," a spokesman said. "We are in contact with all the offices of the government of Iraq to confirm what has happened."

So, archeology is considered "collaboration" by the salaafist jihadis these days?

Hat tip to Dread Pundit Bluto who has more.

Developing........

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 09:51 AM | Comments |

German Woman Taken Hostage in Iraq

UPDATE: The Jawa Report has learned that the name of the woman is Susanne Osthoff. More on Osthoff here.

A German woman has been taken hostage in Iraq. The image right shows the woman and her driver as they appeared in a hostage video. The woman's name has not been released. We will publish her name and the name of her driver as soon as they are known.

According to ADNKI the woman was an archeologist and was abducted with her driver near Ninevah.

Further:

The kidnappers sent a video to the broadcaster's offices in Baghdad in which they showed the hostages and threatened to kill the woman if the German government does not suspend every form of cooperation with the Iraqi government.

The video shows a woman and a man blindfolded and on their knees. Nearby are three armed men with their faces covered. The woman has a chain around her neck, with her passport attached to it.

The German Foreign Ministry has confirmed that the archaeologist and her driver have been missing since Friday. "We are doing everything possible to guarantee the safety of the woman," a spokesman said. "We are in contact with all the offices of the government of Iraq to confirm what has happened."

So, archeology is considered "collaboration" by the salaafist jihadis these days?

Hat tip to Dread Pundit Bluto who has more.

Developing........

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 08:47 AM | Comments |