Editions:  Austria · Denmark · France · Germany · Italy · Norway · Spain · Sweden · Switzerland
Advertisement

What we know about the 'gay porn star turned Islamist spy'

Share this article

What we know about the 'gay porn star turned Islamist spy'
An unrelated worker at domestic spy agency BfV. Photo: DPA.
15:53 CET+01:00
German officials confirmed that an agent with the country's domestic spy service, the BfV, was in fact a suspected Islamist. Then media reported he had also once been a porn actor. Here's what we know so far.

News this week that a member of the BfV was a suspected Islamist was already strange enough, but then both the Washington Post and Bild reported that the suspect of Spanish origin had starred in gay porn videos, found while investigators searched his home.

The case has raised questions about security flaws in the intelligence service and it will perhaps take some time before all the answers are revealed, but here's what we know so far.
 
Who is the suspect?

BfV said on Tuesday that the unidentified 51-year-old suspect is a German national who converted to Islam in 2014. According to DPA, he was born in Spain, but has long held German citizenship.

He is also reportedly a father of four, according to Bild, and kept his radicalization hidden from his family.
 
The man had been working for a bank before he joined the BfV, and after some restructuring at the financial institute, he decided to look for another job. Since April, he had been assigned by the BfV to gather intelligence on the radical Islamist scene within Germany.
 
It is at this stage unclear whether he was radicalized when he converted to Islam - and therefore before he joined the BfV - or at a later stage.
 
According to one member of the parliamentary control committee (PKGr) currently reviewing the case, it is still not clear whether the man is truly an Islamist.
 
How was he caught?

The suspect was arrested on November 17th after chatting online with a man posing as another Islamist - who the suspect didn't realize was actually a colleague at the intelligence agency. The suspect made “Islamist remarks online under a false name”, according to the BfV. He also offered internal information during the chat.

According to information obtained by DPA and other news outlets, the man had also told his chat partner that he could give other like-minded people access to the headquarters of the BfV in Cologne. Specifically, he would warn other Islamists about police action and help make an attack on the BfV possible.   
 
The man also told his online friend that an attack on the BfV would be “assuredly in the interest of Allah”, and that he was ready “to help [his] brothers”.
 
He first came onto the BfV radar while other agents were monitoring online chats and Facebook posts. Security sources told DPA and the Süddeutsche Zeitung that the man had lived near Abu Walaa, one of the central figures of the German Islamist scene, who was arrested at the beginning of November, though it was not clear if they personally knew one another.
 
What are the accusations against him?
 
State prosecutors in Düsseldorf are investigating the man on suspicion of preparing a serious, act of violence against the state and an attempted breach of government secrecy. He has also already made a partial confession.
 
On Wednesday the BfV would not confirm media reports that the suspect had been planning an attack, saying there was no “evidence of a real danger to the office or its workers”.
 
Conservative CSU interior affairs politician Stephan Mayer said, after attending a meeting of the PKGr, that any claim that the suspect presented a concrete danger was unfounded.
 
Mayer also noted that because federal prosecutors had not yet taken up the case, that meant there were probably no concrete attack plans.
 
The Süddeutsche Zeitung reported that the man told investigators that if he were free, he would go to fight in Syria. This is why he has been kept in custody: he could be a flight risk.
 
Is he actually in touch with a terror group?
 
So far investigators have said there is no indication that he had ties to the terror group Isis, nor that he had contact with any other violent Islamists.
 
Was he screened before taking on the intelligence position?
 
According to DPA, the suspect had undergone a security check, and five references - including former supervisors and colleagues - were questioned. There were no concerns voiced about him taking on the position.
 
What happens now to the BfV?
 
The intelligence service certainly has a lot of reflection to do, and its President, Hans-Georg Maaßen, wants to re-evaluate recruitment procedures.
 
“[We will] fundamentally review the case in order to see what we can learn from it,” Maaßen said.
 
Security sources told DPA on Thursday that there is no evidence that a further Islamist network exists within the BfV.
 
But that hasn't stopped politicians from across the political spectrum from calling for a thorough review of all intelligence agents - within the domestic BfV as well as the foreign intelligence agency, the BND.
 
“In the future, security checks should be performed not after several years, but rather one time per year,” said Patrick Sensburg of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative CDU party, to Handelsblatt.
 
Ulla Jelpke of Die Linke (the Left Party) said “the domestic secret service doesn't have gaps in its security - it is itself a security gap.”
Get notified about breaking news on The Local

Share this article

Advertisement

From our sponsors

The Swedish university tackling the challenges of tomorrow

Ranked among the world's best young universities in the QS Top 50 Under 50, Linköping University (LiU) uses innovative learning techniques that prepare its students to tackle the challenges of tomorrow.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Jobs
Click here to start your job search
Advertisement
Advertisement

Popular articles

Advertisement
Advertisement