German Reports: Al-Masri Led Islamist “Commando”

Posted by John Rosenthal

Over the last several months, the German citizen of Lebanese origins, Khaled Al-Masri, has become a sort of poster-boy for the media campaign against the American practice of “extraordinary rendition” in the war on Islamic terrorism. Virtually all the English-language reports on the Al-Masri case have assumed or even underscored Al-Masri’s “innocence” – an assumption that in this context should presumably imply that he had no connections with Islamic terrorism. Medienkritik provides a representative sample of such reports.

 On Friday, the German government submitted a 273-page report on German intelligence activities in connection with the Iraq War and counter-terrorism operations to the German Bundestag’s Parliamentary Control Committee (PKG). Only roughly a third of the report has been made public, amounting, in the ironic assessment of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (25 February), to “a more or less successful summary of press reports and government statements”. Nonetheless, according to leaks in the German media, the suppressed part of the report contains information that substantially undermines the assumption of Al-Masri’s “innocence”. According to an article posted Friday (24 February) on the website of the news weekly Focus and that cites the unpublished portions of the government report, Al-Masri was in the early 1980s a “leading member” of the radical Al-Tawhid movement in Lebanon. The Focus report describes Al-Tawhid as “an organization that is ideologically close to the Muslim Brotherhood and that was dedicated, above all, to fighting the Alawi sect that was regarded as ‘un-Islamic’.” Focus further identifies Al-Masri as having been the “leader” of a 16-member armed “commando”.

A report from Saturday’s (25 February) Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) notes, furthermore, that Al-Tawhid has in the meanwhile also been responsible for planning attacks against “Jewish establishments” in Germany. This is, by the way, not the first time that Al-Masri’s membership in Al-Tawhid has come to public attention. Already in late January, several reports in the German press (see here, for instance, from the FAZ) noted that Al-Masri had listed his membership in Al-Tawhid on his 1985 application for political asylum in Germany. 

Update:
 
The 25 February FAZ article appears to conflate the Lebanese “Al-Tawhid” with the international “Al-Tawhid” organization of the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. For more, see my detailed discussion of the evidence on Masri’s Islamist connections on PoliticsCentral here.

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