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"Terrorists on Honeymoon" in Lower Saxony

tazGermany's Die Tageszeitung newspaper has a frontpage story today about fellow blogger Omar Abo-Namous and his wife, who got a late night visit from the police during their honeymoon in a village in Lower Saxony. Omar is Ph.D student in Hannover and has hosted the German version of the fifth Carnival of German-American Relations. (GM Roper hosted the English version.)

Apparently eight policeman were ordered to put their kevlars on and check out the newlyweds, because a "concerned citizen" got suspicious to see a "middle-eastern" looking couple arrive in the village "without an automobile" at night. Yeah, right, Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth convinced Al Qaeda to go "green" and use public transport. (Please, excuse the pun.)  And since the oil price is so low, Saudi Arabians cannot afford to donate any money to charities with Al Qaeda ties. So the poor terrorists have to go by bus and train.

When should a concerned citizen get really concerned? In her New Year's address, Chancellor Merkel calls upon everybody: "We need a culture of closer inspection, not looking away." She was referring to many shocking cases of child murder, abuse and/or neglect, but the dilemma is similar. Omar's honeymoon, however, was not ground for a police visit, but that happens, when fear of terrorism is too big.

Omar explains in his blog Too Much Cookies what happened in October: Terroristen auf Flitterwochen ("Terrorists on Honeymoon"). He also writes about today's Die Tagezeitung article taz: Terror im Liebesnest, which covers the investigation and what some locals say. Unfortunately, it is all in German so far.

The struggle between counterterrorism and civil liberties increased on January 1, 2008, when a new law for the mass retention of internet and telephone connection data (Vorratsdatenspeicherung) went into effect. DW World reports that "more than 30,000 Germans have filed a mass lawsuit, marked by protests, against a controversial law that allows the storing of telephone and Internet data for up to six months as part of efforts to combat terrorism."

Some related articles: Dialog International writes about "Muslims in Germany."

The AFP News Agency reports that "Belgium was on 'maximum' alert for possible New Year's Eve attacks." And Reuters reports that the Dutch police arrested three men on New Year's Eve suspected of planning an imminent attack. Welcome to 2008!

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Anonymous on :

Maybe they wanted to ask 'who ate all the pies'?

David on :

They picked the wrong guy to harass; Omar won't let the police get away with that outrageous behavior. But Omar and Kathrin are lucky they weren't honeymooning in the US: they might have experienced our infamous "harsh interrogation techniques" (i.e. waterboarding).

Don S on :

Doutful - unless Omar has an FBI file of course. But they may have been turned away at the borders by the INS/Homeland Security. Bad enough, but not up to waterboarding or being arrested for no cause.

Pat Patterson on :

Or he could have been arrested for blogging in Egypt where they really throw the key away. Rather than the West where the suspects are read their basic or constitutional rights and then provided with a lawyer and an avenue to seek redress.

Martin on :

And the police apologized to them. Would not happen outside of the Western world. No country is perfect. You got to live with smaller inconveniences.

Omar on :

@David: i hope we will be successful. I fear if this type of behavior is approved by the legal system, then it's all going down the drain in good ol' Germany.. I think the allegation by the police made in the report, saying that us pursuing this thing legally has to do with us being muslims, rather than being based on our civil rights, is absurd and says everything that has to be said about how this case is being handled by the police as well as by the government.. @Pat: i am truly glad, that I'm still alive. And i don't think my chances would have been better in Egypt. But what you write about "western" standards was simply not true for our case. No rights were read (they would have probably been read, if we were arrested), there was no warrant, no document whatsoever and no investigation afterwards. Rather than apologizing, the policemen even tried to question our motives and asked me, where i work and what we do, where i "come" from etc.. (i still don't know if any data has been saved..) I don't want to darken up the picture more but one policeman told me, they would have knocked the door down, if i hadn't opened it in time. Most probably they would have come in with their weapons pulled (they thought they would meet Osama Bin Laden himself) ... @Joerg: Thanks for the article.

Pat Patterson on :

Omar-I apologize if I implied that you were not treated badly or extralegally, my reponse was aimed more at David's irresponsible allegation that you would have been treated even more harshly in the US.

David on :

Pat - have you ever spoken out against the practice of waterboarding, which was sanctioned by the Bush administration? Didn't think so.... Elsewhere you mentioned you were a Lutheran. You must be reading a different New Testament than mine.... Who would Jesus torture?

Anonymous on :

David, David, David: you embiggen us all.

Don S on :

The whole affair smack of the US offense sometimes described as 'driving while black'. In neither case is it national policy, but rather local authorities getting carried away.

David on :

Wathcing the Iowa caucus results: American rejects torture and endless surges. Turnout for the Democratic caucuses double that of the Republicans. Sorry Pat. I am very hopeful and will be trudging once again through the ice this weekend in New Hampshire for Senator Obama.

John in Michigan, USA on :

@Omar: Sorry that you and your family had your holiday ruined, and your privacy invaded. I hope if you were incorrectly treated you have some legal recourse. @Anyone: Does German law permit entry without permission or a warrant? I suspect that like most countries, in special circumstances, it does, but I haven't been able to find details in English. Any tips? @David: But I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that at no point did Omar fear that he would be transferred to US control, then extraordinarily rendered to some place, and finally, subjected to waterboarding which requires a special order from a very, very high level, that I'm pretty sure is no longer issued by my government, and that I'm even more sure would not be permitted by the German government. So why on earth would you be so tasteless as to bring up waterboarding? Also, tell me again which are the pro-torture candidates in Iowa? Which are in favor of another surge? If you bothered to read polls, you would see that Iraq is now (for better or worse) much less important to voters than other, mostly domestic, issues. The big news was Obama doing better than expected. His position is that troops will stay in Iraq for several years, and he at times has claimed to be in favor of military action in Pakistan! He got more support than the only Democrat who is in favor of withdrawing troops, John Edwards. In short, are you so selfish that you must use this forum to feel good about yourself, or are you interested in, and capable of, real discussion?

GM Roper on :

I'm sorry that my former co-host had to go through that experience. I'm equally sorry someone somewhere seemed to go overboard when the facts didn't warrant it. However, I'm also positive that there is a 99.99999% chance that nothing like that would have happened in the huge melting pot that is the United States. David's comment not-with-standing of course! I can't help but chuckle at the knuckle-headed responses.

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