A former bodyguard of Osama bin Laden has been living in the western German city of Bochum for a number of years. Although authorities regard the 36-year-old Tunisian, named only as Sami A., as a security risk, attempts to expel him from the country have failed so far.
"We regard Sami A. as a dangerous preacher," Burkhard Freier, head of the North Rhine-Westphalia branch of Germany's domestic intelligence agency, said on Monday.
The Federal Prosecutor's Office had launched an investigation into Sami A. in March 2006 on suspicion of membership of a foreign terrorist group. But the case had to be closed in 2007 "because the investigation couldn't firm up the suspicion with the necessary certainty required for a prosecution," the agency told SPIEGEL ONLINE.
According to reports by the WAZ group of newspapers, Sami A. was partly responsible for radicalizing two of the four members of the so-called Düsseldorf al-Qaida cell, members of which were arrested in April 2011 and put on trial last month for allegedly planning to detonate a bomb in a large crowd.
But a spokesman for the Federal Prosecutor's Office stressed that Sami A. wasn't responsible for recruiting the Düsseldorf cell.
Stuck in Bochum
It is not known when Sami A. was a member of Bin Laden's team of bodyguards. According to WAZ, he has contacts with al-Qaida members around the world, including terrorists believed to have played a leading role in the attacks in the US on Sept. 11, 2001.
Authorities have failed so far to find evidence with which to charge Sami A. But they obtained a court order that has prevented him from leaving Bochum since 2006 and requires him to report to the police every day, a spokesman for North Rhine-Westphalia's Interior Ministry told SPIEGEL ONLINE.
"The authorities in North Rhine-Westphalia have used all judicial means to curtail Sami A's activities as much as possible," state Interior Minister Ralf Jäger said in a written statement.
Sami A. moved to Germany in 1997 to study engineering. The Bochum department for foreign residents threatened to have him expelled from the country in March 2006. But a court stopped the expulsion on the grounds that such a move would be excessive. Sami A. is married to a German woman and they have three children. The city has appealed against the court ruling.