UPI is publishing a puzzling report alleging that the 43 year old German archaeologist recently kidnapped by terrorists in Iraq is really a German Intelligence agent:
WASHINGTON — Susanne Osthoff, the German archaeologist kidnapped by Iraqi gunmen on November 25 and released before Christmas was connected with her country’s intelligence service, the BND, and had helped arrange a meeting with a top member of the terrorist organization Al Qaeda, possibly Abu Mussab Al Zarqawi himself, according to well informed German sources.
The sources on January 7 confirmed German press reports that the 43-year-old woman had worked for the BND in Iraq on a freelance basis, and had for some time even stayed in a German intelligence safe house in Baghdad.
A convert to Islam and a fluent Arabic speaker, Osthoff had lived in Iraq for over a decade, and was at one time married to an Iraqi.
Archeology is a classic intelligence cover: T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) posed as an archeologist in the Middle East in the early part of the last century. But archeology is Osthoff’s real profession. One Washington-based German source said Osthoff had been working on arranging a rendezvous with an Al Qaeda member on behalf of a German intelligence agent in Iraq.
Germany is believed to have paid a ransom for Osthoff’s release, consisting, at least in part, of the release of the Hizbullah terrorist Mohammed Ali Hamadi, who murdered US Navy diver Robert Dean Strethem in 1985.
Upon her release, Osthoff gave a peculiar and incoherent interview on German public television, dressed in a black Islamic head covering concealing everything but her eyes, in which she expressed sympathy for her kidnappers and asserted that she had been well-treated.