Susanne Osthoff Talks…and Talks and Talks

Posted by John Rosenthal

Those who don’t speak German have not had the chance to appreciate the series of mind-bending interviews that freed German hostage Susanne Osthoff has been giving in the German media since her release in late December. The series began, of course, with her now famous appearance on 28 December on ZDF (one of Germany’s two public television networks) clad in a burqa. She has since given highly-publicized interviews with the weekly Stern and on the popular Beckmann show on Germany’s other public television network ARD. (All links in German, but images – including, on the Stern page, an obviously staged encore of Osthoff’s famous burqa appearance  - might be of interest.)

Here, then, a brief selection.

On her (initial) fears of being killed by the hostage-takers (ZDF, 28 December 2005):

I was there. I had no feeling, because I was constantly faced with imminent death. Because as I’ve already said: that was a sale and a sale under a very bad sign: namely, Jewish intelligence officer. And normally, if there was no clemency in Arabia, after one hour in the [back] trunk [of a car], I’d already be eliminated and thrown in the canal.

Exegesis: Osthoff has repeated this story of the “Jewish intelligence officer” in each of the three interviews. She is apparently saying that the hostage-takers initially believed she was an officer in a “Jewish intelligence agency”. Presumably Mossad, i.e. the Israeli intelligence agency, is meant. Ms. Osthoff has seemingly not heard that religions as a rule do not have intelligence agencies.

On her ZDF-interview with Marietta Slomka and why she insisted on wearing a burqa (ARD, 9 January 2006):

I was an unknown entity for her, one that wasn’t pretty like her. That’s what I said to her. “Why don’t you take off the burqa?” [Slomka asked me]. Because I’m not pretty. And in such a moment one does not have the feeling [sic. - presumably, of "being pretty"], neither as a human being, nor as anything else.

Note: Osthoff had previously explained that she came to the interview – which took place, incidentally, at the al-Jazira studios in Doha – dressed in the burqa and that she was not given time to remove it and prepare herself for the interview. ZDF has denied her account.

On what she wished for upon being released (ARD, 9 January 2006):

To see Iraq in peace, to see it like it was.

Unfortunately, Beckmann is not known for being a particularly hard-hitting interviewer and thus he did not ask the obvious question: “to see Iraq like it was” – does this mean like it was under Saddam Hussein? Despite its rambling, incoherent quality, virtually everything in Susanne Osthoff’s discourse suggests the answer is: yes. Thus, for example, she refers nonchalantly to the Iraqi “resistance” and repeatedly calls attention to the plight of Iraqis who have left Iraq following the fall of the Baathist regime, i.e. presumably because they were compromised by their connections to the latter.

By the way, concerning the reports that Osthoff worked for the German intelligence agency, the BND, the shock UPI headline that has been making the rounds in the blogosphere – “The Lady was a Spy” – is undoubtedly exaggerated. The lady is an authentic headcase. Assuming a minimum of professionalism, it is hardly plausible that the BND would hire such a person as a “spy”. What seems clear, however, from her own fragmentary account and other reports, is that Osthoff passed information on “security threats” – in other words, impending terrorist attacks – to the BND. How she was herself privy to such information is not clear. She has said that providing this information to her BND contacts was her “duty as a German”.

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