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Twists and Turns in the Murat Kurnaz Affair

Two agents of Germany's Federal Intelligence Service contradicted Foreign Minister Steinmeier and told a closed session of a parliamentary inquiry that the Pentagon officially backed the offer to free Guantanamo detainee Murat Kurnaz in November 2002, writes United Press International. Another surprising twist, reported in a different UPI article:
Germany's former Interior Minister Otto Schily, who was part of the top-level group that decided to forbid Kurnaz's return to Germany, said the man was considered a security risk. "A man who shortly after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, buys a camouflage suit, binoculars and laced boots, and leaves for Pakistan without saying goodbye to his family in Bremen -- I don't think such a man wants to look for Allah with his binoculars," Schily told the German weekly Die Zeit.
More twists and turns in German. Oliver Luksic makes good points about the hypocrisy of the red-green government in Antibuerokratieteam (in German).
For some background on Murat Kurnaz, a Turkish citizen born and raised in Germany, see the Atlantic Review post The Guantanamo detainee from Germany.

Endnote: The case of the Canadian citizen Maher Arar is different, but it is interesting to note that the Canadian government issued a formal apology and paid $10.5-million compensation for Maher Arar, because an inquiry recently concluded that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police "passed misleading, inaccurate and unfair information to U.S. authorities that very likely led to Arar's arrest and deportation to face torture in Syria." I wonder what the Kurnaz inquiry will conclude.

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David on :

Steinmeier and Schily are complicit in their failure in the Kurnaz case, just as they are complicit in doing nothing with respect to the torture rendition of El-Masri (a German citizen) and the kidnapping of Zammar - not to mention their knowledge of the hundreds of CIA rendition/torture flights that used the Ramstein airbase as a hub to and from Guantanamo and other secret "black sites". It is unfortunate that Schily and others are now making racist and islamophobic comments to justify their actions (or inaction). Steinmeier should resign. Of course, the real culprit in all of these cases the Bush administration, which operates outside of any known laws in the name of the "war on terror". I am pleased that Congressman John Murtha has signaled he will move to shut down Guantanamo.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Ah, I forgot to mention: "EU Parliament accuses UK, Germany, Italy and other EU nations of turning a blind eye to CIA flights" There has been -- and still is -- a link to that story in the sidebar...

JW-Atlantic Review on :

"It is unfortunate that Schily and others are now making racist and islamophobic comments" What comments do you refer to?

David on :

Read Ulla Jelpke's piece (linked in the sidebar): Die Guantanamo-Logik: "Bewußt bedienen sich diejenigen, die Kurnaz' Freilassung verzögert haben, nun der latent rassistischen Einstellungen in der Bevölkerung."

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Sure, there are plenty of racists in Germany, but I don't understand what that has to do with the inquiry into Kurnaz case. If Germans are soooo racist, why are the newspapers full with criticism of Steinmeier, and why are we having this parliamentary inquiry about the Gitmo detention of someone, who is [b]not [/b]a German citizen? Jelpke writes that the Schily quote refers to some suspicions that turned out to be wrong? Is that really the case? What makes you think that Schily is "now making racist and islamophobic comments"? The Canadian government is compensating Maher Arar, but the US government does not. Has the US government at least apologized?

Kuch on :

JW I agree that it has nothing with racisim within the German government. I just can't shake the thought that there is so much about this that is still unknown. The German governmnent seems to want to have its cake, and eat it too. Like what happens in the US, there will clearly be plenty of politics with respect to this type of inquiry. Will this process be as diligent in understanding the actions of Kurnaz as it does for those of Steinmeier? Is there a plausible reason why this guy left without telling anyone? The El Masri case is also a bit perplexing...he reportedly has ties to extremist groups in Germany and Lebanon. Why does the German press in particular and th Greman population in general continue to present this guy as the poster boy for the ills of US agression in the war on terror? The Germans know about El Masri's connection to Al-Tawhid in Lebanon and MKH in Neu-Ulm. The Bavarian State even ordered MKH shut down, but these inquiries seem to only be about the politically correct information.

Zyme on :

Stop whining David - The Tageszeitung (TAZ) is a stronghold of leftist journalists. Clearly they oppose any signs of a strong state that keeps an eye on suspicious people. They even call our entire people "racist" just because the majority believes that the treatment of Kurnaz by the german government was correct - while this proves simply the fact that our patience with the muslims is not unlimited. Even if Kurnaz had no connections to illegal organisations: He is no german citizen - so when he wants to go to Pakistan for religious reasons, he cannot expect the german state to get him out of trouble. It is not our job to care for either suspicious or careless foreigners. I bet if Kurnaz was a german citizen, the state would have done everything to bring him home (at least when he would also have a german heritage). Simply having a permanent residence permission does not make him a saint.

David on :

"Stop whining." You are absolutely right, Zyme, why should we give a damn about a kid being held captive without charges for 5 years? Yeah, he was born and raised in Germany, but he was just a Muslim, after all - even worse, a Turk. Hey, look at that beard, he must be a terrorist!

2020 on :

Another question remains open: What has happened to those Taliban and AQ-Fighters that had been arrested by the German elite KSK troops in Afghanistan? Did they get a fair trial? Have they been tortured or executed? Where are they now? Once I've asked these questions in an email to the German 'Einsatzführungskommando' in Potsdam. The answer went like this: Like other nations Germany won't make any statements on the character and the place of its operations in the war on terror and especially not before the background of the on-going public discussions about Abu Ghraib. I suppose there are more skeletons in the red-green closet, but the German main stream media is too shy to ask the right questions.

Zyme on :

David - he isn´t german, so he can´t expect support from the GERMAN government. This is the job of the turkish government.. Is this so difficult? @ 2020 "the German main stream media is too shy to ask the right questions." Well maybe nobody among the media´s audience cares about what happened to them? Who is going to miss them?

2020 on :

Zyme, the first German combat operation since WW2 was hardly worth a note in German big media. Quite a surprise, I'd say. Who's gonna miss them taliban, you ask? Good question. Reminds me of a Douglas Addams quote in the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, of which I offer an updated version here: There are no innocent victims in the war on terror, at least no one worth speaking of.

Zyme on :

"was hardly worth a note in German big media. Quite a surprise, I'd say." You are not living in Germany are you? These things have normalized a lot since the millenium. There was a huge uproar (at least among the political class) during the war in former Yugoslawia in 1999. Today there is a growing political consensus that our military is needed for the pursuit of german interests. We aren´t investing billions and billions of euros into its modernization for no reason. Influence belongs to those things that don´t grow on trees as we say here :) You have to act in case you want to see interests being put into effect. The more tools available, the better. The majority of the population doesn´t mind military deployments as long as they are not too expensive or offer a considerable revenue for our country - one might say as long as they are reasonable. Even when the majority thinks a certain deployment should not have been made (I think it was this way during the deployment in Congo), there are no noteworthy protests or demonstrations. The people are against most new developments here, but they don´t interfere as they realize it is up to the government to make these decisions.

2020 on :

Not only I'm a German, I'm also a Nordfriese!

Zyme on :

Congratulations ;P So it really surprised you that the media didn´t cover the actions you mentioned? Are so many people up in Nordfriesland interested in such matters? I honestly don´t know anything about your region, as I´m from the other end of Germany - which is Eastern Bavaria.

2020 on :

I can only speak for myself, Zyme. But didn't you also hear statements like this in those times:"To prevent further damages in the transatlantic relations we must put our duties as a NATO member before the respect of international law." So Germany allowed the U.S. to use bases in Germany for the Iraq war, so Germany ignored the fact that German warships in Taskforce 180 were part of the US-Order of Battle, so German minister of defense Struck demoted a certain Major Pfaff for rejecting orders to contribute logistically to the American aggression... Schröder, Fischer, Struck and Steinmeier have blood on their hands. They are all guilty of murder.

Zyme on :

"To prevent further damages in the transatlantic relations we must put our duties as a NATO member before the respect of international law." More often you won´t even hear any statements at all and only those involved know what is going on. But isn´t the primary effect of international law that everything is frozen as regards national borders and world politics? When things are getting in motion again, the icy grip of international law is melting down. Such a meltdown is the best environment for those powers that are at the biggest disadvantage of the current international law and want a better position in the world. And since Germany is among them, we have little reason to worry about this development. "Schröder, Fischer, Struck and Steinmeier have blood on their hands." Calm down - All they did was trying to serve german interests. War is a tool of politics and we are in the process of rediscovering this fact.

David on :

His American captors clearly saw Kurnaz as German. That is why they invited the KSK to "interrogate" him in Afghanistan, that is why they allowed the BND visit him in Guantanamo. His release was negotiated with the Chancellor's office, not with Erdogan. Merkel clearly viewed the Kurnaz affair as "Chef-Sache", and I am glad she did.

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