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Former Osama bin Laden bodyguard lives off German welfare, report says

An Osama bin Laden portrait in Ghana. (Flickr/Adam Jones)
April 26, 2018

A former bodyguard of Osama bin Laden is currently living in Germany and receives welfare payments about $1,400 per month, the BBC reported on Tuesday.

The Tunisian man, identified only as “Sami A.,” has lived in the country since 1997 and has avoided deportation on the grounds that he could be tortured if he returned to the Middle East. The 42-year-old reportedly lives with his German wife and four children.

Details of the Tunisian man’s welfare payments and residency were revealed by a regional government after an inquiry by the far-right group Alternative for Germany (AfD).

German media has refrained from revealing his full name or any other details, but it was reported that the man obtained a temporary residence permit in Germany in 1999. He eventually took a number of technology classes before moving to Bochum in 2005.

He was previously investigated for his alleged al Qaeda links in 2006, though he ultimately was not charged.

According to witness testimony during a German anti-terror trial in 2005, the man was one of Osama bin Laden’s bodyguards in Afghanistan for several months in 2000. Sami A. denies the claim, but the judge presiding over the case did side with the witness.

The man applied for political asylum but was rejected in 2007. He was branded as “an acute and considerable danger for public security,” according to Fox News. However, suspected jihadists often face being tortured in North Africa, according to the German government, which is the reason why Sami A. has not been deported. Part of the conditions of his stay require him to report to a police station on a daily basis.

While the man’s connection to al Qaeda has been difficult for authorities to prove, there has been at least once instance of suspicious behavior. Spiegel Online reported in 2012 that German authorities considered him a “dangerous preacher” and alleged that he was responsible for radicalizing two men who had planned a bomb attack in the country.

The AfD in a statement on Tuesday criticized the government’s decision to allow the man to live in Germany and also called out German Chancellor Angela Merkel for her role in allowing migrants to enter the country.

“What fate awaits Sami A. in Tunisia is not the problem of German taxpayers,” the AfD wrote. “However, to protect and financially equip an Islamist, to feed hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants, while for their own population less and less remains, but this fits the [Chancellor Angela] Merkel Germany of this time.”