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Bin Laden bodyguard in Germany

August 7, 2012

Attempts to deport a suspected ex-bodyguard of Osama bin Laden living in Germany have stalled. The case has angered politicians and the police.

There's anger in Germany after authorities admitted they weren't able to deport a former bodyguard of Osama bin Laden, living in the country.
Image: AP

German authorities say the man, named only as Sami A., has been under watch for eight years in the city of Bochum, in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW).

They say A. has spread extremist views and tried to radicalize young Muslims, and is considered dangerous. He is seen as a threat to national security.

It's believed A. spent time in Afghanistan and Pakistan before the attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001.

Two of the man's followers went on trial in July in a group of four, charged with plotting a terrorist attack in Germany. They were accused of being members of an al Qaeda cell.

Deportation attempts

A. is believed to be a Salafist Islamist, of which there are 4,000 in Germany, among the country's total of about 4 million Muslims. Police have upped their surveillance of Salafist Islamists, after clashes with police earlier this year.

They are worried the group is heightening militancy among a small group of young, socially alienated Muslims in Germany. Some Salafists are pushing to establish sharia (Islamic) law in Europe.

Attempts over the past six years to deport the man back to his native Tunisia have been unsuccessful, German authorities announced on Tuesday, because he is married to a German woman and the couple has three children. Additionally, there is no legal means to deport the man to Tunisia.

German outrage

There have been demands for authorities to explain how and why A. was able to live in Bochum for years.

"He gives religious instruction in mosques and is helping to radicalize young people with extremist ideas. Only now are the parliament and people learning about it," said Peter Biesenbach, a member of the Germany's Christian Democratic Union party in the State Parliament of NRW.

The German Police Union says A.'s case is unacceptable.

"Every decent citizen must be angry that preachers of hate are living among us, at the expense of taxpayers," said the organization's chief, Rainer Wendt.

Osama bin Laden, the al Qaeda leader, was killed last year in a raid on his Pakistan compound by US commandos.

jr/mz (Reuters, dpa)