by Florian Flade
Zainulabuddin “Haddid” N., the 23year-old Frankfurt University student arrested by U.S. forces in Afghan capital Kabul earlier this month, has been released from Bagram military detention center.
An e-mail I got from Haddid´s sister, a Frankfurt-based lawyer, says Haddid N. was released by the U.S. military and handed over to the German embassy in Kabul today. “He is in the German embassy in Kabul and he is well”, Haddid´s sister writes, “We were able to speak to him on phone several times.” The e-mail also includes a Thank-You statement to the University of Frankfurt, where Haddid studies engineering, and to the fellow students who rallied for his release.
Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said, he is grateful for the U.S. decision to release the German citizen and that German officials are now offering Haddid N. a safe and quick return to Germany. “I´m very relieved about the solution of this case”, Westerwelle said, “I say thank you to the U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, for her commitment and dedication.”
Last November Haddid N. and a close friend had traveled to Dubai to visit Haddid´s brother living in the Emirate. Instead of returning to Germany Haddid was invited by his father who lives and works in Kabul, to come to Afghanistan for a visit. Haddid´s friend took a flight back to Frankfurt and was searched by German police who found Haddid N.´s ID-card. Haddid had given the document to his friend because the ID-card had expired.
German officials suspected Haddid might be on his way to a Afghan or Pakistani terror camp and left his German ID behind on purpose. On December 17th, Haddid flew from Dubai to Kabul and stayed in his father´s house in the city. In Frankfurt, police visited Haddid´s sister on January 5 and asked her if she knew where her brother was staying and what his intention in traveling to Afghanistan was. The sister told the police Haddid´s father was a Kabul businessman and he probably made the trip to visit him. She gave the Kabul adress to German police.
Only three days later, January 8, U.S. soldiers stormed the house of Haddid´s father and arrested the 23year-old Frankfurt resident on suspicion of terrorism. Haddid N. was then taken to Parwan detention center at Bagram U.S. Military Base and questioned by American interrogators.
Haddid´s sister believes her brother was arrested only after German officials sent information about the Kabul address to U.S. authorities. Now it seems the whole incident was the result of a miscalculation and misinterpretation of German counter-terrorism officials. N. is most likely the innocent victim of German law enforcement. German counter-terrorism and police had investigated Haddid N. since 2009. He was rated a possibly Jihadi terror recruit, willing to attend training camps in Afghanistan or Pakistan.
Police checked Haddid when he traveled to Dubai in September 2009 and took his passport to keep him away from leaving the country. After he went to court, Haddid N. got the passport back. According to German officials, the Frankfurt student showed all signs of possibly leaving Germany for Jihad. Haddid had cut his hair very short and allegedly even sold some of his belongings. In July 2010 all investigation ended. The only thing German counter-terrorism found out about Haddid N. was that he was a faithful Muslim – no terrorism charges could be brought forward.