Opinions about people can vary wildly. Friends and acquaintances describe Omar D. as a "friendly and helpful young man," and they only speak positively of him. Investigators, however, consider him to be a would-be suicide bomber.
The only thing certain is that since his arrest on Friday at the Cologne-Bonn airport, the German citizen, born in Mogadishu, Somalia, and his friend Abdiazak B. have been held in remand in a local jail. Police arrested the men as they sought to make their way to Entebbe, Uganda on Friday. Under German law, a suspect cannot continue to be held in jail longer than 24 hours without a court-ordered arrest warrant, and police successfully obtained one on Saturday.
The decisive evidence that led a senior security official to conduct a spectacular operation on the airfield was a letter that investigators found in Omar D.'s luggage -- a farewell letter to his fiancée. It could either be read as a final goodbye between two lovers or the communiqué of a designated martyr.
Investigators rifled through the German-Somalian's luggage as he waited in line at passport control, was checked and eventually allowed to board the Fokker 50 aircraft operated by Dutch carrier KLM. They considered the text to be evidence that D. wanted to conduct jihad in Germany. Omar D.'s family, however, claim it was nothing more than a love letter to a young woman. A young woman they claimed made a big fuss every time he left -- even though the two don't even live together.
In fact, the evidence against the 24-year-old German Somali is unusually thin. The arrest warrant is only one-and-a-half pages long and it's easy to see that it was issued in haste. It's also clear that the judge in the local district court who issued the warrant is not an expert in sensitive matters of state security. In the decision, she calls for the detainment with the apparent determination that the suspect wanted to perpetrate an Islamist-motivated suicide attack. However, it provides no information about when, where or how the attack is to take place, stating only: Presumably explosives would be used.
As further evidence, the arrest warrant points to two SMS messages sent by Abdiazak B. to Omar D. about the intended handover of possible attack plans on Sept. 12 in Bonn. In addition, the judge argued that Omar D. is not in a steady relationship as his family claims.
The latter is a charge vehemently denied by Omar D.'s attorney. "He and his fiancée have already gotten the paperwork to get married from their local civil registry office," said lawyer Mutlu Günal. D.'s family lives in Bonn and though he is normally studying at a university in nearby Holland, he also still has a room at his parents' place. The lawyer said Omar D. also possessed a return ticket from Entebbe, Uganda.
The question remains whether investigators made the overhasty arrest based on entirely different grounds -- after all, the move has generated controversy inside Germany's security agencies. Officials at the country's intelligence agencies have been monitoring the two men, who belong to the Bonn Islamist scene, and they would have preferred to have the chance to observe the contacts the men would have made in Uganda.
If the evidence and current interrogations don't produce additional incriminating evidence, Omar D. and Abdirazak B. could soon be released.