Two men are chatting online. Both claim they are Islamic fundamentalists. Both work for Germany’s secret service. When one of the men hands over confidential information, the other – an informant – denounces him. This is how German authorities unmasked Roque M., a 51-year-old Spanish-born German citizen whose conversion to Islam had been kept secret even from his family.
But the story doesn’t end there. According to US newspaper The Washington Post, a search of the suspect’s home on November 16 took an unexpected turn with agents turning up films in which the alleged jihadist had starred as a gay porn actor before becoming radicalized.
Officials ran a check and found the alias used by the man during Islamic chats was the same as one he had used as recently as 2011 as a stage name for his roles in the adult film industry.
It worries me to think the suspect’s detention could have been a question of luck Greens Deputy Konstantin von Notz
It is unclear at this stage whether the suspect is a confirmed jihadist or whether he has an unstable personality: either way, his actions are a bitter pill to swallow for German authorities, who have been criticized over the security leak.
“What we have here is a case of a person who has become radicalized without anyone in his inner circle realizing,” said Hans-Georg Maaßen, President of Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), the agency responsible for the country’s secret services, on Wednesday.
Roque M., a former bank employee born in Spain’s Almería province, began working for Germany’s intelligence services in April, managing to keep a very low profile until his arrest. Maaßen said the agency would now carry out investigations to ascertain whether the suspect had carried out any other illegal activities while in the secret service.
The suspect – with a Spanish first name and a German surname – lived with his wife and four children in a town in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany’s west, sources close to the investigation told EL PAÍS. He is thought to have converted to Islam without telling his family.
The man planned to attack secret services HQ in Cologne, ‘Der Spiegel’ reports
The content of the messages he exchanged with the secret service informant leave few doubts about his radicalism. Using a false name, he said he was a BfV employee and handed over classified information as well as suggesting the organization of violent acts against the “infidels,” something he said would “please Allah.”
“We have to be prepared to help our brothers,” he added according to prosecutors in Düsseldorf.
The Spanish-German mole has admitted his objective was to infiltrate Germany’s intelligence services and warn “Muslim brothers” about investigations against them. German newspaper Der Speigel also reported the suspect intended to gather information in preparation for a possible attack against BfV headquarters in Cologne, although there has been no official confirmation of this.
The infiltration of a suspected terrorist in an agency charged with stopping terrorism is a new blow to German secret services coming only a month after Syrian refugee Jaber Albkr committed suicide in prison after being detained for allegedly working on the final preparations for a large-scale terrorist attack in Berlin. Despite these failures in security, Germany has not suffered terrorist attacks in recent months, in contrast to its neighbors France and Belgium.
The Spanish-born man allegedly used the same alias for jihadists chats as he did when he acted in gay porn films
But Germany’s opposition parties have demanded explanations as to how the suspect could have been hired by the BfV despite “all the security controls,” as Social Democratic Party of Germany interior spokeperson Burkhard Lischka put it.
“It worries me to think the suspect’s detention could have been a question of luck, said Greens deputy Konstantin von Notz.
However an Interior Ministry spokesperson downplayed the incident noting the BfV itself had detected the presence of the mole.
English version by George Mills.