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Student victim of terrorist photo blunder

The Local · 12 Jul 2012, 13:18

Published: 12 Jul 2012 13:18 GMT+02:00

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The man, who is now guarding his privacy closely and does not want to be named, first saw the picture of himself in a news story on June 16.

The article was about Emrah E., a German of Turkish extraction associated with African terrorist group al-Shabab, who was being hunted by police in Kenya on suspicion of planning attacks in the East African country.

But the pictures printed alongside it, supposedly showing Emrah from two different angles, were in fact of two different men - Emrah E. and the unconnected man from Stuttgart, Die Welt newspaper reported on Thursday.

By this time the two pictures – handed out by the Kenyan police on June 13 - had been circulated around the world as a double portrait of Emrah E. through news agency AFP. It was printed and published online by several German newspapers, including Die Welt.

The police believed Emrah E. had travelled to Somalia from Pakistan in spring 2011, and may have entered Kenya in May this year. He has since been caught and deported back to Germany.

But the man who was not Emrah E. has never met his supposed doppelganger and says he has never travelled to Kenya or Somalia. And since the picture of him became public, he has been wrestling with another, more sinister, mystery - where did it come from, and how did it get into the hands of Kenyan security forces?

"I can't remember where or when the photo was taken," he told Die Welt. "It was definitely not taken with my consent."

One theory is that it was taken secretly by the German intelligence agency, the Verfassungsschutz, while keeping the man surveillance. But why? Few would consider the student a threat to national security.

He says none of his family have ever had connections with the terrorist scene, and though he considers himself a practising Muslim, he is certainly not a fundamentalist - in fact, he is married to a non-Muslim woman.

He has been to Saudi Arabia several times with his family, to take part in the "Umrah" pilgrimage, but that is not unusual - several hundred German Muslims take part in the so-called "minor pilgrimage" every year, the paper reported.

"It's a complete mystery to me why the secret service would follow or photograph me," he said. "I've never met Emrah E. and I don't have any terrorist friends."

It also remains unclear how the Kenyan police got the photo. Police forces routinely circulate photos in international investigations, and Die Welt reported that Germany's federal police, the BKA, did in fact pass on the photo of the real Emrah E. - but they deny accidentally passing on the second picture.

"According to our initial investigations, we did not pass on the photo," a BKA spokesman told the paper.

It is considered unlikely that Kenyan security forces got the photo themselves, which leaves open the possibility that the picture was taken by a third intelligence agency, possibly when the Stuttgart student was in Saudi Arabia.

Story continues below…

One German security official told Die Welt anonymously, "Something went very wrong here."

Meanwhil the Stuttgart student says he has been slandered by the blunder. "I hope it is cleared up, and I expect an explanation," he said. But it remains unclear who could – or would – provide it.

The Local/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

19:36 July 12, 2012 by lucksi
Well, he said that he is Muslim and that he travelled to Saudi Aribia. Soooo, should he really be surprised about this? This brave new world we live in, right?
20:15 July 12, 2012 by Jerr-Berlin
Well, in the US "war against terrorism"...every male Muslim from 16 to 75 is at least, a potential terrorist....send him to a CIA blacksite or force him to date Pamela Anderson...
20:18 July 12, 2012 by realist1961
I am not sure that people readily admit that they DO have terrorist friends.
21:14 July 12, 2012 by yourkeau
There are no terrorists in Germany. So, the government security services should justify huge budgets in these tough times, where cuts are expected everywhere. So, they create fake terrorists by catching random Muslim guys. Simple as that.
06:52 July 13, 2012 by Bigfoot76
It is early and I am still trying to wake up so I may have missed the sarcasm or is it that you really believe that terrorists are avoiding Germany? There are massive flows of illegal immigrants into the EU which a terrorist could easily merge into and the open borders allow for simple travel. I could not point one out to you but I would say it is highly likely there are terrorists here.

That is aside from the fact that some terrorists organizations seem to be able to recruit over the internet in just about every country these days.
08:28 July 13, 2012 by Joshontour
yourkeau... from your mouth to God's ears.
10:11 July 13, 2012 by JDee
In military and intelligence terms Germany is just an occupied part of the US Empire, Germany is a staging post for the war on terror and the US established their 'Africom' center naer Stuttgart in order to open up a new front in that war. Since they've opened for business a number of bombs targeting innocent civilians have gone off in various African countries which have been blamed on Islamist extremists. As is usual in these cases they also have to manufacture the bogey men to blame for the attacks. As it is the U.S. and their close allies Britain and Israel that are running this whole thing then they are most likely the source of the photo. They are building stasi-style files on millions of innocent people world wide. I suppose this guy should count himself lucky he wasn't executed or something.
15:33 July 13, 2012 by yourkeau
>is it that you really believe that terrorists are avoiding Germany?

I'm not a Catholic priest, I don't believe in anything but facts. And the facts are that the last terror attack on German land was in 1972 (Munich massacre). At that time there was no anti-terror paranoia, although the attacks were far more frequent than now.

>There are massive flows of illegal immigrants into the EU

This, I like it, linking illegal migration and terrorism, considering that the person wanted by Kenyan police is German citizen. You have read to much Daily Mail.
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