What is Germany’s Intelligence Service Doing in Iraq?

What is Germany’s Intelligence Service Doing in Iraq?

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. (See here on the Stern website.)

The photo depicts a middle-aged man in traditional Arab dress posing in front of an inlaid door with two other men on either side of him. The two other men, seemingly guests of the man in Arab dress, are wearing Western "casual wear": jeans and an untucked plaid-shirt and loose-fitting pullover, respectively. The "host" smiles benignly into the camera. Stern has obscured the faces of the other two men, but reports that they are "beaming with good cheer."

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.

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