Osama bin Laden's alleged ex-bodyguard receives $1,400 a month from German taxpayers
By AMANDA ERICKSON | The Washington Post | Published: April 24, 2018
The German government has been paying about $1,400 a month to a man who once allegedly guarded Osama bin Laden.
"Sami A.," from Tunisia, is said to have worked for the al-Qaida leader in 2000 in Afghanistan.
The 42-year-old has lived in Germany since 1997, receiving about $1,429 a month in welfare payments. (His full name has not been reported in the German media because of the country's privacy rules.)
Sami A. traveled to Germany on a student visa more than two decades ago. In 2000, he allegedly trained at one of bin Laden's terrorism camps. His purported position in al-Qaida was revealed in a 2005 trial in Düsseldorf, Germany. During the trial, a witness told the judge that Sami A. had worked for bin Laden.
He has denied any links to al-Qaida, but a judge found the witness testimony credible. Sami A.'s asylum request was denied in 2006, and a court in Münster called him "an acute and considerable danger for public security."
Even today, the Evening Standard reports, he is thought to maintain ties with Islamist circles. He lives with his wife and four children in Bochum, a city in western Germany. He must report to the local police station daily.
Sami A. was not deported to Tunisia after the denial of his asylum request because of fears that he might be tortured there. As the BBC explains, "Tunisia and its Arab neighbors are not on the list of safe countries of origin to which migrants can be deported."
At least three of the hijackers who flew planes into the twin towers of New York's World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, were members of an al-Qaida cell based in Hamburg, Germany.
The news of Sami A.'s welfare payments was confirmed by the government of North Rhine-Westphalia state, after inquiries from the hard-right Alternative for Germany party. AfD is staunchly opposed to immigration. In a news release, AfD decried the decision, writing, "What fate awaits Sami A. in Tunisia is not the problem of German taxpayers. To protect and financially equip an Islamist, to feed hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants while less and less remains for our own people is not acceptable, but it suits [Chancellor Angela] Merkel's [vision for] Germany."