The following from a report by the German television magazine Report München [Munich Report].
According to investigations by the ARD television magazine “Munich Report”, the first negotiations with the kidnappers of Susanne Osthoff were conducted by two agents of the [German intelligence service] BND in Baghdad. Susanne Osthoff was friendly with the two BND agents Josef U. and Armin S. She even spent the night prior to her kidnapping at their residence. The hostage-takers, who at first were unable to establish contact with the German embassy in Baghdad, negotiated by way of middle men with the representatives of the BND. Thereby the latter committed a catastrophic mistake: the secret service men suggested the payment of ransom….
The report implies that they did so without the prior approval of the German government, which latter thus found itself “trapped”. Note that at least one member of the German government – Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the current Foreign Minister and former coordinator for intelligence activities in the government of Gerhard Schröder – has longstanding and intimate contacts with the German intelligence community. The question naturally arises whether in fact part of the German government – namely, the Foreign Office under Mr. Steinmeier – was aware of the ransom proposal (and perhaps further obscure details of the Osthoff affair) while part – including Chancellor Angela Merkel – remained in the dark.