Accessibility links

Breaking News

Bin Laden's Security Guard Living in Germany as a Refugee

FILE - In this 1998 file photo made available on March 19, 2004, Osama bin Laden is seen at a news conference in Afghanistan.

The alleged former bodyguard of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden has been found collecting welfare checks from the German government, according to local media, because he cannot be deported — even though he was refused asylum status.

A report in the German tabloid Bild said the man, named only as "Sami A" to protect his privacy, cannot be deported to his native Tunisia because he is at risk of torture there. He has lived in Bochum, Germany, since 1997 with his German wife and three children.

Sami A, 42, collects around $1,430 a month in welfare from the German government, a figure revealed after the far-right political party Alternative for Germany asked questions of the local authority where Sami A. lives. It is likely that Sami A. and his family also benefit from other social programs that help with housing, heating and clothing needs.

Security officials determined that Sami A. was trained at al-Qaida's terror camps in Afghanistan between 1999 and 2000, and later became one of bin Laden's security guards.

Bild reported that Sami A. was accused by witnesses in a terrorism trial in 2005 of having been bin Laden's bodyguard near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border for a few months at the turn of the millennium, something the judge said he believed to be true, though Sami A denied it.

His residency permit was not renewed in 2005. A deportation order was subsequently issued, but Bild reported that Sami A. appealed it several times. The courts then revoked the order in April 2017 after reviewing the case and deciding that he would face torture if he were to be deported.

Though considered a security risk, Sami A. must report every day to the police in Bochum, which he has done so since 2006. He was refused asylum status because of the security concerns.