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Germany

Visa for Terror Suspect Prompts Inquiry

Germany's foreign ministry has pledged to investigate the procedures that allowed a suspected Algerian terrorist to be granted a visa to live in Germany and remain there after his name appeared on an EU terror list.

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The CDU's Wolfgang Bosbach has called for an investigation

The German Foreign Ministry will launch an inquiry into how a member of two Algerian militant Islamist groups, personally ranked 20 on a recently published European Union list of suspected terrorists, was granted a visa to live in Germany.

The 32-year-old man, Sofiane Yacine F, a member of outlawed terror organizations Al Takfir and Al Hijra, was granted the necessary legal documents to reside in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein after applying for a visa while living in Algiers in 2003.

News first broke on the scandal during a report on German public broadcaster MDR's "Fact" program on Monday. The report revealed that the Algerian has applied for a visa to join his family in Germany, which had been agreed by the foreign ministry office in Schleswig-Holstein.

Questions raised but Algerian remained

It showed that while there were judicial questions over the granting of the visa in November last year, the Algerian had already been granted permission to enter Germany. The state ministry in Kiel was quoted as saying that, while Sofiane Yacine F. is merely under suspicion of being a terrorist, he is allowed to walk free.

After the broadcast, the Federal Foreign Ministry confirmed that, although Algerian's name cropped up on the revised edition of the EU's list of 50 suspected terrorists and organizations on May 17 this year, he still continues to live freely in Schleswig-Holstein. It added that since the revelation came to light, a lawsuit to reverse the visa decision has been put before the administrative court in Berlin.

Bosbach challenges government

The conservative opposition faction's number two Wolfgang Bosbach has demanded that the Social Democrat government investigate how the visa was allowed to be issued to a suspected terrorist and for stringent regulations to be put in place to ensure such a mistake doesn't happen again. The Federal Government must demonstrate "that it wants to close this security gap," said Bosbach in Tuesday's Berliner Zeitung newspaper. "To reduce the risks, we need a visas-warning file." Bosbach added that the granting of the visa was "incomprehensible" and "irresponsible" in light of the current climate regarding international terrorism.

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