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Details emerge of BND spy who aided Shalit deal

The Local · 18 Oct 2011, 14:50

Published: 18 Oct 2011 14:50 GMT+02:00

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed the release of Shalit on Tuesday, while praising Egypt for its role in clinching the exchange deal. "The chancellor thanks everyone involved in Shalit's release. Her special thanks go to the Egyptian government whose role has been crucial in the past months," her spokesman Steffan Seibert said in a statement.

But Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle acknowledged some help closer to home. Alluding to Germany's behind-the-scenes mediating role, he said in a statement he was pleased "that Germany was able to contribute to Shalit's release."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also expressly thanked German negotiators.

Perhaps the most instrumental contribution within the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) came from an agent named simply Konrad, or Conrad, who, according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, has developed a reputation as a “man for particularly difficult cases.”

Konrad, of whom no picture has ever been released, was already involved in prisoner exchange negotiations between Israel and the Lebanese Hezbollah militia in 2004.

He became more prominent in 2008, when the bodies of two dead Israeli soldiers were exchanged for five Hezbollah prisoners and 200 dead fighters, after which he was nicknamed “Mr. Hezbollah.”

Konrad, 50 years old, six feet tall and with perfect Arabic, French and English has worked in the Middle East for several years.

He read Islamic studies at Heidelberg University, completed a PhD and began his service for the BND in German embassies in Lebanon and Syria, when he developed strong contacts with the Palestinians. For the past ten years he has been working at BND headquarters.

Shalit, imprisoned by radical Islamic group Hamas in Gaza five and a half years ago, was exactly the kind of "particularly difficult" case Konrad specialized in.

Germany has no official communication with Hamas. For that reason Konrad’s negotiations with the group, which began regularly in 2009, were carried out under a “personal mandate,” though that of course did not prevent him reporting back to the German government.

He was helped by the BND's relatively good reputation in the Middle East, where they are considered honest and even-handed negotiators. Only once – last summer - has a Hamas spokesman suspended communication, but even then Gaza governor Mahmoud al-Sahar allowed Konrad to stay on the scene.

Story continues below…

There were reportedly several such obstacles in the drawn-out negotiations, largely because of internal divisions on both the Palestinian and Israeli sides. On top of that, the fall of President Hosni Mubarak meant that all the Egyptian negotiators were replaced, which brought talks to a standstill.

Nevertheless, the BND insists that Egypt should take the most credit for facilitating the deal.

DPA/AFP/The Local/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

15:19 October 18, 2011 by Celeon
The BND seeking attention again. How pitiful that always is for an intelligence agency.

Lets be honest nobody among the involved really cares.

Gilad will thank the israeli government and Jehovah and the released palestinians will thank Hamas, Egypt and Allah. Absolutely nobody except the BND will ever mention the BND in relation to this matter.

Considering how controversial this deal is, with so many convicted murderers and terrorist helpers among the released palestinians, the BND would be well advised not to underline its role in the deal.
15:26 October 18, 2011 by internationalwatch
What a waste of German intelligence services and money of German tax payers that BND parasite on to do crap like this instead of securing German national interests. BND needs some more training from CIA because they still deliver crap jobs with crap professionalism!
16:11 October 18, 2011 by storymann
Celeon,I agree that this is a catch 22,however I am pleased the young Israeli was released.
00:40 October 19, 2011 by Frenemy
@internationalwatch: Thats pretty funny since it was the BND (i.e. Reinhard Gehlen) that trained the CIA and taught them pretty much everything about spycraft...
22:31 October 22, 2011 by DrGideonPolya
Lost in all the coverage of the swap of 1 Israeli soldier from the war criminal, state terrorist IDF for over 1,000 Indigenous Palestinian prisoners are the 4.2 million Occupied Palestinians still illegally and abusively held hostage by racist Zionist-run Apartheid Israel, 800,000 of them being children held in what the Catholic Church has described as the Gaza Concentration Camp, a grossly child-abusing concentration camp guarded by IDF state terrorists, including Gilad Shalit.

Further, according to the New Statesman (UK) "according to figures released by the Israel Prison Service, there are 164 Palestinian children aged between 12 and 17 incarcerated in Israeli jails, including 35 minors aged between 12 and 15. As many as 700 Palestinian children are prosecuted each year in Israel's military courts; more than 7,000 have been detained since 2000."

The continuing horrendous abuse of Occupied Palestinian children by the Israelis demands that decent people Boycott Apartheid Israel through Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). Apartheid Australia-, UK- and US-backed Apartheid Israel should be excluded indefinitely from the Olympic Games as was Apartheid Israel-, Apartheid Australia-, UK- and US-backed Apartheid South Africa.
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